back to article Online car tax saves planet from carbon hell

Much desperate saving of the planet round at the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) where, we are told, "internet-savvy drivers" have been playing "a vital role in the battle against global warming." This band of heroes has saved sufficient CO2 to fill "81,000 double-decker buses." What this CO2 was doing in 81,000 double …


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  1. Richard

    Fault in the figures

    Last time I went to renew my Tax Disc at the post office I had to make 2 trips cos I forgot my 'valid' insurance certificate,

    Has the figure quoted taken into account dumb asses like me who have to make more than one trip thus doubling (or even tripling) the figure?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That is only about 500 double decker busses

    full of dry ice.

  3. Neil

    I use more C02 now I'm sure

    The post office is a 5 minute walk. I used to walk there and buy my tax. As it's so much easier to do it online (as you don't have to dig out all the documents), I now do that. So instead of nothing I now have:

    -Electricity for powering my PC

    -Envelopes for posting the tax disc to me - trees cut down

    -Petrol/Diesel to move the envelope around the country

    Ok, so it's a stupid argument, but then it's a stupid report so it evens out.

  4. Will Hillyard

    Saving the planet one missing tax disc at a time

    I renewed my car tax on line half way through last month. I finally received it on Tuesday after two discs were apparently lost in the post. Thus my car was off the road for about a third of the month saving lots of CO2. If this is common practice then the actual amount of CO2 saved is probably more than they have estimated.

  5. Ruana

    Excellent questions

    I always travel to the Post Office by bus or on foot. So, whilst undeniably more convenient, my licensing online this year saved a grand total of no carbon dioxide whatsoever. Indeed, given that I had to run my computer to do it, and there was undoubtedly some power-sucking hardware on the other end to make it all possible...

    Shaky assumptions = statistics which are a load of hot air.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More important is to cut out unnecessary paper

    Its time that every company with more than 50 employees was obliged by law to give customers the option of online accounting and paperless bills.

    And to do it PROPERLY ... none of this "here's your statement, print it out because it will only be retrievable online for 9 months" rubbish that banks are fond of. Statements, or at least the raw data that's behind the statements, must be retrievable online for at least SIX years, to satisfy the tax requirement, so that there's no reason to print them out at all.

  7. Andrew Cawte

    If they really cared...

    ...they'd abolish the tax disc entirely, saving all that paper, electricity and expense.

    It used to show policemen and traffic wardens that the car had, at some point in the last year, insurance and an MOT. Now both of those are held on an electronic database to which the police (presumably) have access, so that function is completely redundant.

    As far as raising revenue and encouraging fuel economy goes, we have fuel tax already - which is actually both fair and easily administered. But, of course, the anti-4x4 lot don't like a scheme that's actually fair... :(

  8. Chris Purcell

    CO2 is a gas... expands to fill whatever volume you place it in. Now that's a neat way of allowing you to invent statistics. "By not driving to Cornwall, I saved sufficient CO2 to fill seven cubic parsecs of space!"

  9. cor

    81,000 double decker buses..

    ... and never one when you need it.

  10. Jason Edmunds

    Punish the Paperwasting (Welsh) Heathens

    So now we can do the tax thing in 2 minutes online AND save the planet AND not get a parking ticket for sticking the car in the only space within 3 miles of the Post Office (which happens to be illegal). Has anyone calculated how many trees were saved in parking tickets alone?

    Anyway, this seems to be the first government 'Green' scheme that doesn't save the planet by taking money from my wallet. I assume they do this to roll the notes back into trees?

    Anyway, here am I taxing my car online and saving forests left, right and centre but HOLD ON A MINUTE. What about those wasteful bastids willfully squandering our planet by doing it the old way? I fork out approaching £400 a year to tax my 2 unreasonably thirsty cars, by way of punishment for not driving a milk float. I pay HUGE amounts every time I fill up the fuel tanks because I dare to actually drive them. So what terrible punishment is going to be levied on the heathens? I look forward to suitable suggestions...

    And without wanting to kick off the whole 'Welsh Hate' movement, living in Wales (as I do), I am FORCED to receive EVERY Government / Local Authority publication in both languages WITH NO CHOICE GIVEN. I mean they actually PRINT EVERYTHING TWICE! As far as I can see we could save a whole load of paper by just banning Welsh, or at least using less.

    And before you start, I speak Welsh but I can still read English the same as every other Welsh speaker, so don't waste my time with whatever it is you were going to say.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DVLA office is much better than Post Office

    Here in central Oxford, the queue is usually very long indeed at the Post Office - whereas at the DVLA office (which is very nearby) it's always been much, much shorter, in my experience.

    The other advantage (?) of using the DVLA office is that you get a computer-printed tax disc instead of an old-fashioned hand-written one.

  12. Geoff Webber


    with all these number plate recognition cameras about - just what does the tax disk actually prove.

    I dont display a sign outside my house to say I have paid my council tax so that when the fire brigade / police / dustbin men et al turn up they dont then decline to provide me with a service because I cant prove I have paid.

  13. Phil


    "Andrew Rhodes, DVLA’s Head of Electronic Customer Services, is available for interview – please contact Fiona Anderson or Andrew Smith at MGB PR on 01792 460200, or"

    Go on, John, I dare you ...

  14. Tim

    But why is it still only by the month?

    It's good to be able to buy it online, but why can you only buy a whole month's worth (or only cancel whole months)? As it is online, it should be possible to tax a car for as many days as you need, rather than an arbitrary minimum.

    I haven't driven my car on the rad for 10 days, yet there is no way to claim back that unused £5+ worth of tax.

  15. Name

    More effective

    Suicide is by far the most effective method of reducing your carbon footprint.

    So perhaps the DVLA employees responsible for this report should make a real contribution towards saving the planet and top themselves. Wouldn't do the gene pool any harm either.

  16. Bob Pilkington

    A Lot of gas

    Double decker bus = 8.38m x 4.38m x 2.44m

    Total volume = 89.56 cubic metres or 89558.7 cubic decimeters

    therefore 81000 double deckers have a total volume of 7254254700 cubic decimetres.

    At room temperature and pressure 44g of CO2 occupies approx. 22.4 L of space (=22.4cubic decimetres)

    Therefore 81000 double decker buses at room temperature and pressure contain 14249 metric tons of carbon dioxide or approx 35.6225 mega PH (Paris Hiltons)

  17. Anton Ivanov

    Just add the tax to the insurance or MOT fee

    The government already collects a fee for MOT. The government already collects a tax on the insurance. The car tax can be tagged onto either one of these.

    In fact, as the databases are connected anyway it will be trivial to make the insurers collect the MOT tax as well as the road tax and hand it to the exchequer along with the insurance premium. This will be quite good as they will receive actual real information on how safe your car really is to you and the people around you. This as well as is it really "unmodified" or you have put a bunch of sharp spikes on it, pardon skirts and spoilers to do some pedestrian hunting.

    While I am usually against the "database nation", the idea of getting rid of the tax function of the DVLA alltogether does have a considerable appeal. Modern technology has made it trivial.

  18. Carl

    @But why is it still only by the month?

    Tim, I agree. But I'd prefer to pay tax only for the MINUTES I'm actually on the road. The other 99.9% of the day is a whole waste of my tax money!

  19. Colin Wilson


    "Anyway, this seems to be the first government 'Green' scheme that doesn't save the planet by taking money from my wallet."

    They add a surcharge for paying by credit / debit card.

  20. Steven Jones

    Correction to the Correction

    There is no surcharge for debit cards - just credit cards, presumably to cover the percentage taken by the card companies (part, but not all of which of which is to cover the "credit" aspect). Debit cards charge a fixed fee which I guess is absorbed because no doubt the Post Office charged too.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ideal Gas

    Bob - 1 mole of gas would occupy 22.4 decilitres at 0°C not 22 °C

    V / n = 8.3145 × 273.15 / 101.325 = 22.414 m³/kmol at 0 °C and 101.325 kPa absolute pressure

  22. Danny Thompson

    Ah, but only if you have one vehicle insured ....

    I have a multi-bike policy with three machines on it. I can only on-line tax the first as the other two do not show up on the DVLA as being insured. For those two I have to use the first motorcycle to ride into town to use the Post Office to tax those.

    "Ah yes," says the DVLA, "We know about that but there are no plans to fix it. Is there anything else I can do for you?". FOAD springs to mind, but I'm way way too polite.

    Bloody good stuff this technology.

  23. Steve again

    How many trees were saved?

    I can't speak for you Northerners but, regardless of the context, here in New Zealand the answer is generally always "none". We get our paper from trees in plantation forests which, for good economic reasons, are replanted as soon as they are torn down*. Hence we can use as much paper as we like and still have roughly the same number of trees at the end of the year.

    *Actually this year is an exception. Due to some obscure regulation that is being blamed on Kyoto, forestry companies will from next year be penalised for reducing the number of acres they have in plantation forests and rewarded for increasing them. Strangely, all of them seem to have forgotten to replant this year.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Road Tax

    I think they say to allow five days for delivery which means you will want to order at least two weeks before the end of the month. I prefer to go into the Post Office a couple of days before the end of the month so I can be sure of having the tax disc and also in a vain attempt to try and keep the Post Office open (might not bother once W H Smith take over).

    If the disc was later arriving then there could be problems with police ANPR checks, there are plenty of reports of people being threatened that their fully taxed and insured vehicles will be crushed because of the police's inaccurate database. At least with a tax disc on the windscreen you have a better chance of convincing them or least being able to sue them afterwards.

    It also means that the DVLA has my £205(?) for a couple of weeks more than necessary.


  25. Geoff Webber


    £205 or more for road tax.......... Hmm

    Now if we really wanted to reduce costs and carbon emissions maybe we should all buy Mini Cooper diesels.

    Quick, similar CO2 footprint as a prius (sp?) and less than the honda multifuel.

    and £35 a year for tax.

    BTW the volume calculation for the bus has not taken into account solid items within the space (seats, stairs, floors, engine etc etc.) ;-)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cycling, cycling, cycling,....

    Four miles or ten minutes by car!!!!!

    To a fit cyclist it will take about that time and no need to find parking ;)


  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get your standards together, people!

    A double-decker bus is, as everyone knows, a unit of length, not volume! Now, if they spoke of Bulgarian funbags, that'd be another story....


  28. James

    Their actually quite fast

    I brought my last one online and it arrived about 2 days later, not bad for Royal Mail!

  29. Ian Sneyd

    Continuous taxation b0110cks

    If, like me (and I'm not a rich man by any yardstick) own a couple of family cars, 3 bikes (which I can only ride one of at a time) and an old campervan that I'm doing up then it is quite easy to "become a criminal" (the fine for not taxing or SORN) I'd rather see the tax disc done away with, it no longer serves a purpose... the physical item is no proof that you've taxed the thing as the DVLA database is what you get slapped by.

    BTW if I SORN my bike (at least one of which I do during the winter as it's a sumer bike only) I'm not allowed to go and get a tax disk 2 weeks in advance like a "normal" person who tax expires at the end of the month can anyone think of a reason for that?

    And while I'm in full moan how the hell do I get my bike to the MoT station when it's SORN and I can't get a Tax disc without an MoT?

    And why the hell do I still have to go through the whole tax disk rigmarole for my bloody campervan when it's Tax exempt /*aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah I hate bloody burocracy*/

  30. IanKRolfe

    @Ian Sneyd

    "And while I'm in full moan how the hell do I get my bike to the MoT station when it's SORN and I can't get a Tax disc without an MoT?"

    You are legally allowed to drive your vehicle on the road without tax or MOT to and from a testing station where you have a booked appointment, or to or from a garage where you are having work done in pursuance of an MOT.

    If one of the Governments spy-cams gets you on the way, you merely have to show some proof of the booking (hint: Always ask the Garage/MOT station for a signed note of appointment) and they will drop the charges.

  31. Brendan Weir

    @Ian Sneyd

    If your "summer" bike is 600cc or less, you can't get a 6 month tax disk, you have to pay full whack and claim a refund when you SORN it. I nice little dodge by the DVLA to stop anyone getting any benefit from the system!

    VED system should be replaced a combined MOT/Insurance certificate disk and the savings spent on dubious IT projects of questionable value.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buses full of CO2

    <genial bus driver>

    "Sorry mate, this one's full of CO2. There's another one along in about 20 minutes though".

    </genial bus driver>

    I'll stick with the car......


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