09 March 1999
Pesticide tax still on the cards
By FWi staff
A NEW tax on pesticides remains on the governments agenda, according to statement from the Treasury released in the wake of todays Budget.
Chancellor Gordon Brown announced one of the biggest ever environmental packages of tax reforms in his Budget speech to a packed House of Commons this afternoon.
Although Mr Brown failed to refer to a pesticide tax, the budget package included measures to limit the environmental impact of land use and water pollution.
A statement released by the Treasury shortly afterwards said the aim was to build on Labours pre-election pledge to use the tax system to protect the environment.
“Research on the design and impact of a possible tax on pesticides, commissioned by the Department of the Environment, will be published shortly,” said the statement.
“The government will be seeking views on the issues raised in the report.”
The report in question is the Ecotec Report, a study commissioned by the government which goes into complex details of how a new pesticide tax might be implemented.
As yet, the report has not been released outside government circles – despite repeated calls for its publication.
It now appears that the government will publish the report in the near future before reaching a final decision on whether a pesticide tax would be beneficial.
Jim Walker, president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, welcomed the Chancellors decision not to introduce input taxes now.
“Farmers already have every incentive to use them sparingly, because of their costs,” he said.
“Their introduction would have further hit the competitiveness of our industry,”
But the National Farmers Union (NFU) said that the budget offered “little for the farming community”.
Tony Pexton, NFU deputy president, welcomed the cut in corporation tax, the retention of increased capital allowances and the freeze on VAT.
But proposals to increase fuel duty would hit the rural economy to the tune of an additional £13m, he said.
“Fuel taxes are already higher in Britain than in European countries,” he added.