The Chancellor was all Brown and no green in his tenth pre-Budget report, West Midland environmental and financial experts have agreed.
Gordon Brown's plans for a range of environmental policies were condemned by many who felt they did little to tackle concerns raised by the Stern Report on climate change.
The report by Sir Nicholas Stern in October warned that, unless climate change was taken seriously, it would eventually cost the UK 20 per cent of GDP.
Bridget Woodman, energy policy expert at the University of Warwick Business School said the pre-Budget report had not lived up to the green hype.
She said: "It is appalling given that the Treasury was responsible for commissioning the Stern Report.
"What Gordon Brown has produced is a few tentative steps towards going green. But the big headline grabbers – air passenger duty and fuel tax – are set at such a low level they will not discourage people from flying or using their cars."
Mr Brown introduced a 1.25 pence a litre increase in fuel tax – in line with inflation – but scrapped plans to reintroduce the fuel ‘escalator’ – used pre-2000 to keep fuel duty six per cent above inflation.
Mr Brown also pledged to double air passenger duty from #5 to #10 from February.
Simon Jonsson, head of tax at KPMG in Birmingham said these would have little impact unless revenues were ploughed back into green schemes. He said: "Apart from tweaking petrol tax and air passenger duty, the Chancellor trod lightly on ‘green taxes’.
"The idea of green taxes is to change behaviour, essentially to persuade people to use less energy and, in that sense, if it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working.
"Rather than adding to the general exchequer pot, revenues should either be returned through tax reductions elsewhere or reinvested in anti-pollution measures."
Birmingham International Airport welcomed the Chancellor's announcement and suggested the extra #1 billion raised from air passenger duty should fund transport links to airports.
But budget airline easyJet reacted angrily claiming the rise in duty would do little to protect the planet.
Chief executive Andy Harrison said: "Air Passenger Duty is the wrong tax for the economy and the wrong tax for the environment.
"It penalises all airlines and aircraft equally, when clearly some airlines are much more environmentally efficient than others."
The fuel tax rise also left haulage firms horrified. The Road Haulage Association said it was "devastated" that the three-year freeze on duty had ended.
RHA chief executive Roger King said: "The announcement by the Chancellor has come as a tremendous blow to UK hauliers already operating at a considerable financial disadvantage to their European counterparts.
"The 1.25 pence per litre increase will, for many operators, signal the end of the road. "
Mr Brown's ambitious target to make new homes carbon neutral by 2016 was met with mixed reactions.
Conservation group WWF welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement, claiming it was "a great breakthrough" and demonstrated Mr Brown's commitment to green housing development.
But Chris Crean from West Midlands Friends of the Earth said the Chancellor had failed to properly address the bigger challenge of bringing older housing up to modern environmental standards.
Business also gave a cool reaction to concessions for environmentally friendly biofuels.
Mr Brown said duty on biofuels would remain at 20p per litre until 2009 and biofuels for railway engines would have a reduced duty of 7.69p per litre.
He added that HM Revenue & Customs would also investigate relaxing tax return requirements for small biofuels producers.
David Middleton, chief executive of the Midlands Environmental Business Company, welcomed the commitment to stimulate biofuel development, but said the pre-Budget report showed little evidence that Government saw sustainable development as a "central priority issue". Solihull-based Land Rover said it was encouraged by the concessions announced for bio-fuels.
"All our cars are capable of running on five per cent bio-fuel and we hope to increase that to 25 per cent in time," spokesman Mark Foster said.
But Chris Butler, a consultant for Brownhills-based Green Biodiesel, said the Government had consistently failed to support the biofuel industry. He said: "All we ask for is a level playing field with Europe and we are not getting it.
"In Germany biofuel is tax exempt and, with the 20p per litre duty, we cannot compete fairly."
More Birmingham Post pre-Budget stories:
>> Brown blasted for 'feeble' report
>> Brown fails to go green
>> Sir Digby sets sights on skills
>> Political Editor Jonathan Walker gives his opinion
>> Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry's reaction
>> Air fares to rise
>> Pension fear over u-turn
>> Brown cautious but not frugal
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