Call to freeze fuel duty and avoid punishing diesel motorists ahead of Budget

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Motoring campaigners have urged the Government to freeze fuel duty and avoid punishing the drivers of diesel vehicles in Wednesday's Budget.

There has been growing speculation that Chancellor Philip Hammond will increase taxes on new diesel cars following calls by environmentalists to take action to improve air quality.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fair Fuel for UK Motorists and UK Hauliers and pressure group FairFuelUK have written to Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Hammond calling on them to avoid such action.

Sales of new diesel cars in the UK
(PA Graphics)

The letter claims that introducing a new purchase registration tax onto new diesels would be "a massive disincentive" for motorists to switch to modern, cleaner models.

It went on to warn that raising duty on diesel fuel would cause a reduction in disposable income for the "most vulnerable sections of society with a rise in personal mobility costs, bus and train fares", as well as a "sharp decline in revenue" for car manufacturers.

The letter concludes: "There's a much wider band of polluters than just passenger cars and to further demonise the well intentioned, hard working diesel driver is an act of economic and electoral self harm."

It was signed by MPs Julian Knight and Robert Halfon - chairman and vice chairman of the APPG respectively - and Quentin Willson and Howard Cox of FairFuelUK.

Fuel duty has been frozen for seven years in a row.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth insisted that Mr Hammond should "go full throttle on clean vehicles".

Chief executive James Thornton said: "The Budget is the current Government's golden opportunity to make good on its duty to clean up our air.

"With the right policies, the Chancellor must urgently abolish the incentives that have condemned the country to illegally poor air quality for decades.

Islington Council announced this week that it will be the first UK local authority to raise the price of short-stay parking for diesel vehicles across an entire borough.

Islington Council to introduce £2 diesel surcharge for short-stay parking, to help improve air quality https://t.co/FkdTAabfA0pic.twitter.com/TM5zZVkzSP

-- Islington Council (@IslingtonBC) November 16, 2017

The surcharge will cost affected motorists £2 an hour on top of existing hourly fees, which range from £1.20 to £6.

A £10 toxicity T-Charge was introduced last month in central London for vehicles which do not meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, generally those registered before 2006.

It covers the same area and operating times as the existing congestion charge zone in the centre of the capital, which runs on weekdays between 7am and 6pm.