Fuel duty to remain frozen for ninth year

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Theresa May commits to no fuel duty increase in the autumn budget, but campaign groups are critical that it will encourage car use 

Theresa May said the Government would not ‘thaw out’ its fuel duty freeze policy

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced at the Conservative Party Conference that fuel duty is to be frozen for the ninth consecutive year.

In her speech, she said: “For millions of people, their car is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Some have wondered if there would be a thaw in our policy [to freeze fuel duty] this year.

“Today I can confirm, given the high oil price, the chancellor will freeze fuel duty once again in his budget later this month.”

In response to the statement, Bus Users UK called for bus operators to be exempt from fuel duty, ‘in order to offer a more sustainable and less polluting alternative to the car.’

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, said: “A freeze on fuel duty will encourage greater car use, which will add to the traffic and pollution in our already heavily congested town and city centres.

“Exempting buses from fuel duty until they move onto greener fuels will help operators to offer a genuinely viable alternative to the car, as well as providing access to transport for the millions of people who either aren’t able to drive or choose not to.”

Greener Journeys criticised the freeze, stating it would have a damaging impact on air quality and public health in the UK, and lead to worsening congestion.

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said: “Extending the freeze on fuel duty is a disastrous move which will have a severe impact on air pollution and public health in the UK. Roadside air pollution is causing up to 50,000 early deaths a year, and we know that cars and vans are the primary cause.

“We urgently need a shift away from car use and towards more sustainable public transport, but today’s decision will do the opposite. We urge the Government to show leadership and make the right decision.

“Past fuel duty freezes have already made the price of fuel at the pump 13% cheaper than it would otherwise be and resulted in up to 200 million fewer bus journeys over the same period. Greener Research shows that the Government’s continued freeze on fuel duty has caused there to be 4% more traffic and an additional 4.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 12,000 tonnes of harmful NOx emissions, by encouraging people to abandon public transport in favour of their cars.

“It is the poorest in society who cannot afford a car who suffer the most from this policy.”