Skip to main content


Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government has taken to encourage motorists to use greener fuels since 1997. (204547)

The main way that the Government have encouraged the use of alternative fuels since 1997 is through differentials in fuel duty between petrol and diesel and other fuels. There are also incentives through reduced rates of Vehicle Excise Duty for cars that run on certain alternative fuels and registered after 1 March 2001. Vehicles powered wholly by electric power are exempt from VED.

The Government fund the running of an Infrastructure grant programme. The grants assist the building of refuelling stations for alternative fuels (natural gas/biogas, hydrogen and bio-ethanol). It is also funding research and development into battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles through a Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, which brings together funding from the Department for Transport, Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Previously low carbon vehicle research and development funding was provided through the Energy Saving Trust.

The Government have also introduced the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). The RTFO, which came into effect from 15 April 2008 aims to ensure that sustainable biofuels make up an increasing percentage of total UK road transport fuels, and means that biofuels are starting to become available in low blends at the majority of forecourts in the UK.

The Government previously provided grants through the Powershift and Clean Up programmes to encourage the purchase of low carbon vehicles. However it was clear that the funding levels available would not bring about the required market transformation so the funds were diverted to other environmental transport initiatives.