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Automotive Fuel

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 28 June 2012

4. What representations she has received on plans to increase the level of ethanol in automotive fuel. (114043)

We have received representations on ethanol from a range of individuals and organisations. Ethanol can currently be blended in petrol up to 5%. I understand an industry standard for a blend of up to 10% is being developed. The Department has asked the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership to work with consumer groups, vehicle manufacturers and fuel suppliers to plan its introduction to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place and consumers have clear information.

Is the Minister aware that the Government are absolutely right not to increase the level of ethanol above 5% until we have a better evidence base for its sustainability? Is he also aware—I declare an interest at this point—that there is evidence that ethanol levels above 5% play havoc with older vehicles’ fuel systems, including those of classic and historic vehicles? If we have to go above 5%, will he ensure that the pumps are properly labelled?

I entirely sympathise with my right hon. Friend, who makes an important point. I expect that there is a possibility that the European Commission will review the matter before January 2014, when the requirement for petrol stations to supply a 5% blend officially ends. The UK Government also have a power to require a 5% blend to be supplied beyond that point. In any case, I would expect industry to ensure that a protection grade of E5 will continue beyond that point and I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend’s point about labelling.