Leaks of the contents of John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith’s policy group report signal that the three most controversial issues have been settled amicably:
- The Sunday Times’ headline story is that there will be significant rebates on stamp duty, VAT and council tax to reward environmental efficiencies. Putting emphasis on "incentivising the good" rather than "taxing the bad" is sensible in the light of the TPA’s recent demolition of green taxes.
- Nicholas Watt in the Observer reports that Gummer has abandoned the highly unpopular "green air miles" proposals but does intend to target taxes at the aviation industry for using planes that are especially environmentally unfriendly.
- Watt reports that Gummer won the nuclear power battle as well, despite Goldsmith saying he would "fight like hell" against it. The report will endorse nuclear power but with the caveat that the nuclear industry will have to pass certain tests. A "senior Tory" sees this as evidence that the political realities of being a candidate have softened some of Goldsmith’s radical positions.
The Sunday Mirror
links "furious behind-the-scenes rows at Tory HQ" on these issues with Johan Eliasch leaving the party. Thankfully though, the finished product promises to stave off a lot of unwanted unrest.
The other headline proposals are on energy efficiency in the home. They will recommend that household electrical appliances should be regulated more so that the worst offenders don’t enter the market and the others will carry labels at the point of sale so consumers can see how much energy it uses. Plasma screens and permanent stand-by functions would be banned.
The Independent on Sunday seems to be alone in revealing a side to the report that delves into social psychology. It quotes Jules Peck, Director of the report, saying that they have been "rethinking the whole way we look at the world". The report will talk about the "hedonistic treadmill where individuals can never be satisfied", and say that "treating [the market] as a god and doing its bidding does not make men and women happy". That excessive material consumption can be both bad for the environment and bad for people is undoubtedly true and looks to me to be the most interesting aspect of the forthcoming report.
Noon update: The Mail on Sunday reports that the cost of a family saloon car could rise by as much as £2000 under plans to tax high carbon cars.