Cheap flights cause headaches

HAVE you jetted off on a cheap flight as part of your holiday this year - or are you thinking of flying off on a short break to Prague, Barcelona or Budapest?If so then you are probably one of the targets of the MPs who published a report on climate change this week.

HAVE you jetted off on a cheap flight as part of your holiday this year - or are you thinking of flying off on a short break to Prague, Barcelona or Budapest?

If so then you are probably one of the targets of the MPs who published a report on climate change this week.

And if you drove to Stansted or Luton in a 4x4 then they really do have it in for you. Quite right too!

Frankly it is no good everybody wringing their hands over climate change while refusing to do anything to change their own lives, on the basis that everyone in China is soon going to want a fridge!

The growth in cheap flights over the last decade has pumped millions more tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - making air travel one of the most serious factors in damaging our world.

It is all very well to “invite” air passengers to offset this damage by buying a few trees for a forest in Scotland, but what is needed is for a tax to show these passengers just how bad their journey is for the environment.

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The other suggestion by the MPs was that road tax for large 4x4 vehicles should be increased to up to £1,800 a year.

Personally I'd like to see anyone driving a top spec Range Rover being charged £10,000 a year poseur tax - but seriously I can see no objection to high taxes for gas-guzzling vehicles.

Anyone who can afford to spend £40,000 on a car should be able to afford £1,800 a year to tax it - if not they should seriously consider trading down to something less damaging.

Of course if transport secretary Douglas Alexander has his way, road tax could soon be phased out altogether - replaced by a road charge.

On paper this seems a great idea - charging people more to drive along Oxford Street in the rush hour than on the road between Woodbridge and Hollesley at 3am.

But the idea of putting the right gizmos in every car in the country seems totally fanciful.

I just cannot see how it can work - it's an idea that is far too clever by half.

Of course if you did want to improve the environment and persuade people to drive less there is a simple solution - abolish car tax and shove more excise duty on petrol and diesel.

That would encourage more people to use public transport, walk or cycle - which in turn should cut congestion.

But something tells me there isn't a politician in the country courageous enough to even think about that!

ON A related subject, there is talk once again of changing the country's speed limits, partly because of environmental concerns and partly because of safety issues.

It does seem common sense to look again at these - frankly it is daft to have a 60mph limit on many country roads when to do half that speed would constitute reckless driving!

However if the government is to avoid the charge it is looking to penalise the motorist unfairly the suggestion of reducing the general speed limits on motorways and dual carriageways must be resisted.

I know it would save fuel if we all drove at 55mph, but the fact is that if you put artificially low speed limits on roads you will only find that more people ignore them - you have to have laws that the majority of people agree with.

The fact is that a car travelling at 70mph (or even faster) on a motorway is much safer than a car travelling at 40mph on many country roads.

And the fact is that modern cars put out less exhaust at 70mph than they do with the stop-start chug around town.

What is needed is a sensible, flexible, speed limit - 60 on good single-carriageway roads, 70 on dual carriageways, and possibly 80 on some motorways.

But if the top speed is raised, motorists must be under no doubt that if they exceed the limit they will be caught, fined and have their licence endorsed - maybe funded through having speed cameras every couple of miles or so.

SO John Prescott is now “running” the country while his boss is sunning himself in the Caribbean or wherever he has borrowed a villa this year.

The prospect doesn't really fill me with dread - somehow I reckon that if there were any real crisis TB would be on the phone or even flying back faster than you can say “Gordon Brown.”

Which leaves Prezza in charge of organising summer cocktail parties for ambassadors and senior civil servants. And I'm sure he can cope with that!

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