Skip to main content


Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many cars in the UK run on biofuels; and if he will make a statement on the benefits of the use of biofuels for the environment. [101063]

The best indicator of biofuel use is volume of sales rather than number of vehicles. This has increased significantly since the introduction of a lower rate of duty for biodiesel in July 2002; Customs and Excise figures for January indicate over 400,000 litres of the fuel being sold from around 100 filling stations. The November Pre-Budget Report announced a commitment to introduce a similar preferential duty rate for bioethanol and we would expect a similar pattern of take-up of this new fuel once this has been introduced.Biofuels offer a number of environmental benefits compared to conventional mineral fuels. Importantly, they can contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions due to the absorption of carbon dioxide during the growth stage of the biofuel feedstock; recent studies have shown that both biodiesel and bioethanol can reduce emissions by at least 50 per cent. measured over the "life-cycle" of the fuel. In addition, the use of biofuels can help improve air quality, particularly when used in a blend with conventional mineral fuels. Furthermore, the low toxicity and high biodegradability of biodiesel in particular makes its use ideal for sensitive environments such as waterways.Biofuels are mainly used in a 5 per cent. blend with conventional fuels. All cars are warranted for use with 5 per cent. blends of biodiesel and bioethanol which meet the respective European Fuel Standards, EN590 and EN228. Biofuels not produced to these standards may damage vehicles and their use will invalidate car manufacturers' warranties. It is also an offence to use fuel on which the relevant duty has not been paid.