"Chelsea tractor" drivers and air travellers face substantial increases in tax as part of Gordon Brown's pre-budget report next month.

According to a report in today's Financial Times, the chancellor is preparing to increase the top rate of vehicle excise duty for the most polluting cars, including four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Air travellers also face a rise in air passenger duty, a move which follows the Stern report on climate change, which called for urgent action on global warming. At the moment, travellers pay duty of £5 for short-haul flights and up to £40 on long-haul journeys.

The FT said that Mr Brown intended to use the pre-budget report, which he will deliver on December 6, to signal his support for an international market in carbon trading to reduce emissions. But the paper said that Mr Brown would "tread carefully" on the broader issue of green taxes and that he was understood to be opposed to a bigger package of increases that could have raised billions for the Treasury.

The department today refused to comment on the report but its contents chime with measures announced in the budget in March this year, when rates of vehicle excise duty were overhauled. The chancellor introduced a new band for the highest polluting cars, raising the tax on 4x4s from £160 to £210. He also reduced to zero the excise duty on the most environmentally friendly vehicles.


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