Chancellor George Osborne’s decision in this year’s Budget not to withdraw the 3p hike on fuel duty originally planned for last month — and as a result, still due in August — has generated the predictable howls from “motorists’ organisations”.

Yet I don’t feel nearly so exercised about it.

This admission is certain to bring the wrath of many car-users down on my head. As will surely be pointed out there are plenty who struggle harder than I do to fill their tanks. Of course, no-one enjoys paying more for an already-expensive commodity.

Yet I believe the bigger picture shows the combination high fuel prices and tougher CO2 emissions laws has brought amazing progress in engine efficiency and sparked a decline in car weights, both highly desirable outcomes.

They might not otherwise have been forthcoming. So while I wouldn’t exactly say George has done us a favour, I don’t believe the future is all doom and gloom, either.