Chancellor urges support for Heathrow expansion in 2008 budget

Chancellor Alistair Darling urged support for expansion at Heathrow in his first budget delivered today, but warned the growth of the aviation industry must be environmentally friendly.

The Government began a consultation on the design of a new per plane duty to replace APD in January and now plans to increase forecast tax revenues from the new duty by 10 per cent in the second full year of operation.

An ABTA spokeswoman said the plan might not mean higher charges per plane. She said: “The increase will come from total revenue so if there are more passengers, the charges may not go up. The aviation industry needs to be incentivised to invest in fuel efficient aircraft.”

Meanwhile, Darling urged people to support the expansion at Heathrow and announced new measures at Heathrow and other airports to use biometric technology to speed up the time it takes to get through security checks.

There will be “simpler” taxes for small companies, Darling announced, while funds available through the small firms loans guarantee will increase by 60% in the next year.

There will also be a £12.5m capital fund to encourage more women entrepreneurs. 

As predicted, climate change was high on the agenda. 

“The need to take action on climate change is urgent,” said Darling. “We are inquiring whether the carbon reduction target should be 80%.”

New non domestic buildings will have to be zero-carbon by 2019, he added.

Other budget news included:

  • The planned 2p increase in fuel charges will be postponed until October and there will be a further 0.5p a litre increase in fuel in 2010.

  • An extra £200m for schools to raise GCSE results.

  • £60m a year to equip people for the workplace.

  • Laws will be introduced to impose tax on plastic bags by 2009 if the supermarkets have not done this themselves.

  • Wine is up 14p a bottle, spirits up 55p a bottle and beer up 4p a pint.

  • Child benefit will rise to £20 a week from April 2009

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