Energy minister labels 4x4 drivers "crassly irresponsible"

But would £200 road tax deter Chiswick's "polluting" motorists?


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With Hounslow ranking amongst the most polluted boroughs in London, this week's news that energy minister Malcolm Wicks is looking to introduce higher road tax for 4x4 vehicles is bound to restart the heated debate that is rarely far from the forum.

Labeled by Mayor Ken Livingstone as 'idiots' and now described as being "crassly irresponsible" by the energy minister, drivers of "petrol-guzzling" 4x4 vehicles constitute a sizeable proportion of road users in Chiswick. 

However, would a £200 road tax on vehicles that produce more than 250g of carbon dioxide per kilometre currently being considered by the Treasury be enough to discourage Chelsea tractors from local roads? 

Sian Berry, a spokeswoman for the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, believes that £200 was not an adequate deterrent.

She said "The government's own research showed that road tax bands had to vary by £300 before they affected drivers' buying decisions."

The alliance is also calling for higher congestion charges for 4x4s. "We would also like to see different rates for resident's parking permits, probably based on carbon dioxide emissions, and we want to see a ban on advertising for them [4x4s]."

The government has undertaken to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050 but recent statistics revealed that Hounslow Borough currently ranks as the 7th worst of 33 London Boroughs for its C02 emissions.

"Given the very demanding CO² cuts we must make, we are going to need more than just a series of marginal changes," Mr Wicks told The Times "There will come a time when it will be irresponsible for those [4x4s] to be on sale."



March 2, 2006