Memorandum by the Energy Saving Trust
WHITE PAPER ON TRANSPORT POLICY
These are the comments of the Energy Saving
Trust on the Government's White Paper on Transport, issued in
July 1998. The comments should not be taken as representing the
views of individual members of the Trust.
The Trust welcomes a White Paper on transport
that has as its aim the creation of "a better, more integrated
transport system to tackle the problems of congestion and pollution".
We agree with a holistic approach, whereby the means of transport
are improved on the one hand, while the need for transport is
diminished on the other.
The Trust does, however, feel strongly that
the White Paper neglects a key feature of a better transport system,
namely, the support and promotion of clean fuels and clean-fuelled
vehicles. Clean fuels have multiple benefits relating to climate
change, air quality, and noise; to ignore them is a waste of opportunity
to improve the environment.
Road vehicles as a means of transportcars,
buses, taxis, truckswill always play an important role
in the UK's transport system, and this is recognised by the White
Paper. In this context, the Trust's DETR-funded transport programme,
Powershift, has the aim of increasing the number of clean-fuelled
vehicles on the road and, indeed, transforming the market for
such vehicles. Already, there are 5,000 vehicles such as cars,
trucks and buses on the roads of the UK, many of these are as
a result of the Trust's programmes.
The Trust's comments will therefore focus on
areas in which we feel that cleaner vehicles couldand shouldbe
supported and promoted as a matter of government policy. In particular,
our comments relate to the following:
insufficient price differentials
between petrol/diesel and clean fuels;
insufficient differentials in Vehicle
Excise Duty (VED) between petrol/diesel and clean-fuelled vehicles;
the need for customer awareness of,
emissions produced by cars and CVs;
the need for raising awareness of
the availability of a wide range of credible clean-fuelled vehicles
(a need evidenced by the lack of discussion in the White Paper);
the requirement for effective mechanisms
for local authorities to be able to improve air quality (and,
by implication, promote clean-fuelled vehicles and the associated
infrastructure) in their areas.
These issues will be covered under the main
headings as given in Part III Chapter 4 of the White Paper, after
a preliminary description of the situation regarding clean fuels.
VEHICLES: A BACKGROUND
By clean fuels is meant;
liquid petroleum gas (LPG);
battery electric (BEV), hybrid electric
(HEV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
The Energy Saving Trust through its Powershift
programme has already placed more than 800 CFVs on the road since
1996, and expects this number to double this year.
There are vehicle already on the road, from
each sector of road transport, that can use one or more of the
above fuels, as shown in the table below:
|Vehicle Subsidies by Operator||Number|
|Bus and Coach||25|
|Delivery and Courier||236
|Total number of vehicles||807
|Vehicle Subsidies by Fuel Type||
|Liquefied Petroleum Gas||483
|Total number of vehicles||807
|Vehicle Subsidies by Vehicle Type||
|Single Deck Bus||25|
|Double Deck Bus||0|
|Total number of vehicles||807
The advantages, in terms of environmental benefits are threefold:
reduced CO2 emissions (global climate
reduced particulate, NOx, CO and hydro-carbons
emissions (local air quality issue);
reduced noise (local noise issue).
Each clean fuel has at least one, but usually a combination
of several, of the above environmental benefits, as compared with
the use of standard petrol or diesel.
Although several thousand clean-fuelled vehicles are already
on the road, there are a number of barriers to widespread uptake,
higher price of the vehicles themselves, owing
to low volume;
lack of awareness by vehicle purchases of the
availability of a wide range of credible clean-fuelled vehicles;
an incomplete refuelling infrastructure.
It is these barriers that the Trust believes should be tackled
by the Government's transport policy, and the following are intended
as helpful suggestions:
The Trust believes that fuel pricing and Vehicle Excise Duty
are key financial instruments for sending the right signals to
We support Government policy of incremental increases to
the price of petrol and diesel each year, as a means of finding
the optimum price level for each vehicle. However, the demand
for road transport is notoriously irresponsive to the price of
fuel, and these incremental increases alone are unlikely to have
sufficient impact in reducing demand.
However, demand for each fuel is responsive to price differentials,
as was evidenced when unleaded petrol was introduced at a lower
price than leaded. The Trust feels strongly that the price differential
between gaseous fuels and petrol/diesel should be increased further,
and that a lower fuel duty for reformulated petrol should be introduced.
In addition, the use of fuel duty differentials can be made
tax revenue neutral by balancing fuel duty costs for clean fuels
against rises for traditional fuels.
For public service operators, there is no fiscal incentive
to opt for clean-fuelled vehicles, owing to the fuel duty rebate.
The Trust accepts that the Government will not change its policy
on fuel duty rebates again. However, Vehicle Excise Duty could
be an alternative mechanism, whereby clean-fuelled buses have
a significantly lower VED than polluting vehicles, as suggested
in 4.124. The Trust feels that a discount of £500 per year
per bus, as suggested, will have little impact. We advocate a
far higher VED differential, or the introduction of an alternative
The EU will be setting tighter emission standards for new
cars and light vans as of 2001, and these will be 20-50 per cent
more stringent than those currently in force. Unfortunately, the
Trust feels that these standards will not be sufficient to meet
local authority air quality targetsespecially as the standards
will only apply to new vehicles.
Local authorities in the UK are working towards their air
quality targets by introducing measures to reduce vehicle emissions
further including the use of road-side emission testing and spot
fines. The Trust fully supports this approach, tailored to local
In order for the approach to have maximum impact, however,
road users must:
be made aware of the existence of air quality
have access to information on the emissions levels
of vehicles they wish to purchase;
be able to ascertain when their vehicles fall
below the required standards.
To this end, the Trust makes the following recommendations:
A public awareness campaign on air quality standards,
and how these relate to road vehicles. The Powershift Register,
published by the Trust, already provides information on the emissions
of clean-fuelled vehicles. A similar register might be drawn up
for all new road vehicles, and be made publicly available.
The public awareness campaign would be complemented
by a requirement for all new vehicles to be sold with a quantitative
assessment of their emissions levels.
All new vehicles should be fitted with a gauge
that displays emissions levels. This goes further than the requirement
for vehicles to warn of system failure, which is likely to be
introduced in the year 2000. It allows the user to assess whether
he is able to enter a particular local authority area with impunity.
Emissions levels should still be checked during
vehicle MoTs. However MoTs alone are not sufficient, as they do
not provide the vehicle user with real-time feedback of their
vehicle's emissions levels.
The White Paper devotes a section to technological research
and development. The Trust would like to make the point that clean-fuelled
vehicles are already on the road, and there is a wide range of
credible vehicles, of various categories, from which to choose.
The public should be made aware that this is the case. Focus
should be given to developing the refuelling infrastructure for
clean fuels, and for reducing the price of clean-fuelled vehicles
via innovative partnerships and procurement schemes.
The Trust agrees that partnerships between a combination
of government, local authorities, manufacturers, public service
operators, and organisations such as the Trust, have a major role
to play in furthering the cause of clean-fuelled vehicles.
Local authorities have already developed some innovative
mechanisms for shaping local transport, with the aim of reducing
congestion or improving air quality. In the area of clean fuels,
one might cite the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and
the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The local authorities
here agreed with two large supermarket chains that, if they used
gas-fuelled trucks to make their deliveries, then allowable delivery
times could be extended into late in to the night, and early in
the morning. This was a win-win situation, as follows:
The gas trucks are 7 decibels quieter than their
The trucks spend less time on the road at peak
rush-hour times, thereby alleviating congestion.
Air quality is improved.
The supermarket chains have extended allowable
delivery times, and can therefore deploy resources more cost-effectively.
The Trust believes that local authorities have the potential
to do even more, and to this end, backs the recommendation made
in the Local Government Association's Position Statement on Energy
(July 1998), namely:
"38Government should empower local authorities
to experiment flexibly and creatively with new means to fund sustainable
transport initiatives, such as road and congestion charging and
extensions of parking charges, energy service companies, and public
"39Government should require all public
agencies (including health trusts and education authorities) to
include the transport (including energy) consequences in performance
measures, especially evaluations of locational decisions, and
should prepare guidance on how this should be done. Funding formulae
should enable public bodies to incur higher internal costs (for
example, keeping small schools and hospitals open) where justified
by the broader benefits of travel reduction."
A competitive mechanism similar to the Trust's DETR-funded
HECAction scheme may be appropriate for encouraging local
authorities to develop innovative integrated transport policiesthat
incorporate the consideration of clean fuels and clean-fuelled
The Trust has extensive knowledge and access to information
regarding policy options for integrated transport, through its
role as co-ordinator of the European "Utopia" Project
funded by DGVII Transport. This experience may be useful for both
central government and local authorities when considering policy