As part of his environmental measures in this year’s Budget, the Chancellor has introduced a new top rate of tax for vehicle owners who run the most polluting cars, priced at £210 per annum.

Rural commentators have criticised this move, which they argue is only going to hit rural communities who need 4×4 vehicles to navigate where they live and work, and in reality people in cities, who have no need for these types of off-road car, are hardly going to notice the extra charge.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart said: “This vehicle tax ‘superband’ is merely paying lip service to the environmental lobby, and ignores the needs of the rural community, who put four-wheel drives to their proper use. An extra £45 on a tax bill will make no difference to those in urban areas who can fork out £50,000 on a leisure vehicle.

“It will have a direct impact on farmers and rural workers who depend on their 4X4 vehicles to go about their daily business, and use them through necessity rather than choice. We are talking about people with battered four-wheel drives and real tractors rather than brand new immaculate Chelsea tractors.”

However, the Country Land and Business Association is more concerned with other barriers to rural life which are currently in place thanks to the Chancellor’s policies.

CLA Chairman David Furston said: “On the higher taxation of high polluting cars, the CLA notes from the budget documents that this tax raising measure will only apply to new vehicles and so farmers and those working and living in rural areas who currently have four-wheel drives will not be immediately affected.

“However, future purchases of such vehicles by rural businesses would have to take into account these additional costs, but these are likely to be tax deductible in any case. So we think the ‘Chelsea Tractor’ issue is a diversion from the real struggles being faced by those in rural communities.

“There remain many fiscal barriers preventing land-based businesses from diversifying into new activities that would play their part in the overall investment in Britain’s future,” he concluded.

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