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Environmental Assessments

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what assessment of the Government's energy policies has been made with regards to assessing the environmental impact of (a) the 10-year plan and (b) the SRA plan; [49719]

Mr. Byers: An overall environmental assessment of the 10-year plan is set out in "Transport 2010: The Background Analysis", Chapter 4 and Annexes D and E. This is in the Libraries of the House. Individual projects, including those in the SRA Strategic Plan, are subject to environmental assessment, where appropriate, on an on-going basis as part of project development.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the environmental benefits of switching road haulage to rail on the West Coast Main Line. [49702]

Mr. Byers: The Strategic Rail Authority assesses the environmental benefit of the transfer of freight from road to rail using a calculation based on the net number of road lorry miles reduced. This has been applied in informing the current review of the allocation of capacity for passenger and freight trains on the West Coast Main Line.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment has been made as to the environmental costs of the increased processing required to produce ultra low sulphur petrol. [49699]

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Mr. Byers: Statutory instrument 1999 No. 3107 incorporated the EU Directive 98/70/EC on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels into UK law. The regulatory impact assessment that assessed the impacts of the actions required to incorporate the directive included an environmental assessment. Copies of the directive, the statutory instrument and the regulatory impact assessment can be found in the Libraries of the House.

Alternative Fuels

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will place in the Library details of the calculation on which the fuel duty rebate levels on (a) Cngas, (b) Lpgas, (c) biodiesels, (d) LNG, (e) E10 bioethanol blends and (f) E85 bioethanol blends is based; [49453]

Mr. Byers: My Department provides grant to the operators of local bus services in the form of fuel duty rebate. Decisions on the rate of grant paid for use of specific types of fuel are taken in the light of the duty levied on the fuel and wider policy considerations. An information pack explaining the fuel duty rebate scheme has been placed in the Library.

Operators of eligible services whose vehicles are gas powered (CNG, LPG, or LNG) receive rebate of all the excise duty, which is currently levied at 9 pence per kilogram.

No operator has so far claimed rebate for use of biodiesel and a rebate rate has not been set in advance of a claim.

E10 and E85 bioethanol blends are used as an additive to, or substitute for, petrol and are classed by the Customs and Excise as fuel substitutes with duty levied at the rate appropriate to the fuel with which they are mixed or substitute for. Any bus operator using petrol which included these blends would therefore receive rebate at the appropriate petrol rate, currently 34.30 per litre.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what Government incentives, in addition to public money, have been introduced to promote the use of (a) Cngas, (b) Lpgas, (c) biodiesels, (d) LNG, (e) E10 bioethanol blends and (f) E85 bioethanol blends; [49698]

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Mr. Byers: The Government has introduced a range of fiscal and other measures to promote the use of cleaner fuels, such as road fuel gases and biofuels, which offer environmental benefits.

The Powershift programme promotes and provides grants towards the cost of purchasing cleaner fuel vehicles running on LPG, natural gas and electricity. No E10 or E85 blends are currently on sale in the UK. The Powershift budget for 2002–03 is £10 million, provided by my Department. This has recently been strengthened by an additional allocation of £1 million from the DTI, aimed at further raising awareness of LPG and increase the availability of good quality LPG vehicle conversions, particularly in rural areas.

The Government's CleanUp programme, complements Powershift, promotes and provides grants towards the conversion of existing vehicles to run on cleaner fuels including LPG and natural gas, and the fitting of emission abatement equipment. Its budget for 2002–03 is £10 million, of which around £8.5 million is likely to relate to clean fuel conversions. Additionally, the CleanUp programme will manage a further £7.5 million in 2002–03, as part of the Road Haulage Modernisation Fund announced by the Chancellor in the 2001 Budget and of which around £5.8 million will be for grants.

As announced in Budget 2001, the rate of fuel duty for road fuel gasses (natural gas and LPG) is at the low rate of 9 pence per kilogramme, and the Government indicated that there were would be no real terms duty increases until 2004 at the earliest. It was also announced that a new

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duty rate would be applied to biodiesel from Budget 2002, subject to European Union approval, 20 pence per litre below the rate for ultra low sulphur diesel.

The Government's Green Fuels Challenge is designed to stimulate the development of further alternative fuels. Proposals covering hydrogen, methanol and bio-gas will enjoy a period of zero fuel duty, subject to EU state aids clearance.. A second round of pilot project will be announced shortly after Budget 2002 inviting bids for a wider range of fuels.

The Powershift programme has a comprehensive marketing strategy to raise awareness of LPG and other alternative fuels. This includes advertising campaigns, regional workshops and articles run in environmental magazines. Over the last financial year the programme has run two advertising campaigns, the first targeted corporate fleet operators of vehicles under 3.5 tonnes and the second targeted at public sector fleets. The expenditure for these campaigns was £55,000.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) how many grants have been awarded under the Powershift Programme in each year since it was introduced; [49042]

Mr. Jamieson: The table shows the total amount paid and the number of grants made together with the number of vehicles supported under the Powershift programme since it started.

Years1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02Total
Number of grants69127392117211772937
Number of vehicles supported3787482,2624,5454,94014,110
Amount of grant paid£1.043m£1.461m£3.352m£6.040m£5.595m£17.491m

The latest figures from the LP Gas Association confirm that there are currently 1,106 LPG refuelling points in the UK, at the end of March 2001 there were 700 and at the end of March 2000 there were 365.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of road transport fuel is gas based. [49454]

Mr. Byers: 65,778 tonnes of road fuels gases were sold in 2001. For comparison approximately 37 million tonnes of petrol and diesel were sold in the UK in 2000.


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