UK 'green revolution' plan could mean tax on road use

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak. Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The UK government’s plan for a “green revolution” is due to be published this week.

The forthcoming plan will be released by prime minister Boris Johnson, according to chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The plan comes following reports in The Times this morning that Sunak is considering plans to charge motorists for using UK roads, amid concerns surrounding the shortfall in tax money a switch to electric cars would cause.

The government is due to announce a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 as part of a 10-point plan to tackle climate change.

It is estimated that the government could lose out on £40bn ($52.7bn) in tax due to the policy.

The chancellor is said to be “very interested” in road pricing plans to make up the shortfall.

The UK’s only current major toll road is the M6 in the West Midlands. Drivers also face charges when using some tunnels and bridges.

Commenting on the rumoured plans to charge road use, Sunak said: “I wouldn’t comment on future fiscal policy but this week the prime minister will be publishing our plan actually for our ‘green revolution’ as he likes to describe it.”

READ MORE: Stagecoach agrees new extension to waivers on £325m debt

The plan comes alongside recent research that showed the UK is off course to meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK government has not yet delivered the scale of investment needed to ensure a low-carbon future, but there is still an opportunity to improve those prospects.

Earlier this month, IPPR called on the government to lead by example on the world stage by taking ambitious action.

The green homes grant, investment in cycling, walking infrastructure and in offshore wind announced earlier this year show the government is moving in the right policy direction, but action at a greater scale and pace is needed, according to IPPR.

Other measures that should be on the agenda to cut emissions are decarbonising homes and buildings and investment in low carbon transport. The IPPR calculates that an additional £10.3bn is needed a year to improve public transport services and efficiency, as well as boosting cycling and walking, while four times the current annual spend would bring decarbonising homes in line with targets.

Watch: Why UK tax hikes may seem inevitable