Gordon Brown’s decision to further punish owners of 4x4s by raising road tax for the most polluting vehicles will rob farmers of as much as a week’s income.

Previously, vehicles expelling 226g/km of CO2 (band G) incurred a road tax of £210 per year. Now with the tax set at £300 per year for 2007-8 and £400 per year for 2008-9, the Countryside Alliance (CA) has calculated this amounts to a week’s wage for a rural worker, who earns on average £21,300 per annum.

Out of the 250,000 band G sport utility vehicles (SUVS) which the CA says are used for all-terrain purposes, 60,000 are used on working farms, 18,000 are used in the equine industry, 5,000 are used by gamekeepers and 2,500 are used by rural veterinary surgeons, all of whom will pay the price for needing to drive one of these vehicles.

Chief Executive of the CA Simon Hart said: ‘Yet again rural people are at the forefront of the Government’s hasty and ill-conceived economic decisions. Such short-sighted legislation will merely punish those whose 4x4s are a necessity rather than a choice, while doing nothing to deter those who choose them for cosmetic reasons.

‘The Government has again masked a tax on the British countryside as an environmental tax. All this will achieve is to heap more unfair discrimination and hardship onto already impoverished rural communities.’

Read more on how the Budget will affect homeowners, particularly in the south east.