Speaking at the company’s annual press dinner in London last week, O’Donnell warned the government that if it continues to penalise motorists, doing business in the UK will get even tougher.
Taxes on buying, owning and using vehicles raise £45 billion every year for the Treasury, representing nearly 11% of all government tax revenue.
‘One wonders where it will all end,’ said O’Donnell, ‘and it is not at all clear what will be the real benefit to the country.’
He suggested punitive charges and increased taxes were designed to compensate for a lack of proper transport infrastructure.
O’Donnell called for a robust evaluation of the costs versus the benefits and how it might impact on Britain’s ability to compete internationally.
‘So far this analysis appears to be sadly lacking. Our poor transport infrastructure and the fact that we are an island give us a logistical disadvantage versus our continental cousins,’ said O’Donnell.
The recent Stern Report has moved the environmental debate on to an economic footing for the first time and O’Donnell welcomed this.
But again he urged the government to see the bigger, international picture.
‘We are being advised that the UK’s contribution to world emissions is currently running at 2%. If we reduced this to zero tomorrow, it is estimated that within two years China’s new emissions would have filled the void,’ said O’Donnell.
‘The UK cannot solve the issue on its own.’
O’Donnell said British business and politicians need to sit down with global trading partners and ensure there is a level playing field so UK plc is not disadvantaged.
He called for an international consensus on the technologies that will solve the challenges posed by climate change. According to O’Donnell a first step is to make more renewable energy, including non-fossil fuel.