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Environmental tax – a headache in the making for Ed Davey What are environmental taxes? The Government’s not so sure. It has been massively avoiding the question for months, MPs […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Environmental tax – a headache in the making for Ed Davey

What are environmental taxes?

The Government’s not so sure. It has been massively avoiding the question for months, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee chuntered this week in their latest report.

Which begs the question, if Government doesn’t know what counts as an environmental tax, how on earth can we?

It also goes to show that spending time locking horns with the Treasury spells no end of trouble: expect evasion, confusion and a massive headache. Ed Davey had better get the paracetamol ready.

Especially if Chloe Smith, the Treasury’s Economic Secretary’s tricky performance last week is anything to go by. She told the environmental select committee that the Treasury was still working on a definition for environmental tax, seven whole months after first asked for one.

The new energy secretary tried to unfurl his green sails on his first official trip as a Cabinet member – which lo and behold was at a wind farm – following the resignation of Chris Huhne on Friday.

Mr Davey declared: “I have long believed in the need to marry our economic and environmental agendas. Greening the economy isn’t just good for the planet – it’s good for the wallets, purses and pockets of every British citizen too.”

Good luck to him, is all I can say. Getting George Osborne to label environmental spending on his spreadsheets as anything other than “Outgoing” will be a huge undertaking for DECC’s new top dog.

As Green Party leader Caroline Lucas told ELN today, “The real challenge will be standing up to the Treasury and the jury’s out as to whether or not he’ll do that.”

But perhaps, as a “trained economist and an environmental campaigner since university,” puffs the DECC website, he’ll have more luck sweet talking the Chancellor’s tight-fisted minions than Mr Huhne. Perhaps.