HC Deb 28 February 2001 vol 363 cc683-4W
Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what steps the Government are taking to encourage car manufacturers to make and sell cars that run on liquid petroleum gas; [151263]

(2) what steps the Government are taking to help promote the environmental benefits of liquid petroleum gas to the public; [151265]

(3) what steps the Government are taking to encourage more petrol stations to sell liquid petroleum gas; [151264]

(4) what grants are available to owners of older car models to convert their cars to run on liquid petroleum gas. [151262]

Mr. Hill

The Government have introduced a range of measures to promote the wider use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The Powershift programme, funded by my Department and administered by the Energy Saving Trust, provides grants towards the additional cost of vehicles fuelled by LPG. There is a low rate of duty on LPG and other road gas fuels—around 7.5p per litre, compared to 48.82p per litre for premium unleaded petrol and 48.82p per litre for ultra low sulphur diesel. From 1 March 2001, new LPG cars will benefit from a lower rate, under the new Vehicle Excise Duty system.

The number of LPG refuelling points is growing rapidly. There were around 100 in 1997. There are now around 660 sites in the UK and this number is expected to rise to over 1,000 by the end of this year, thanks to investment from the major fuel suppliers. Many of these new facilities will be on petrol station forecourts. The Government's revised transport planning guidance note (PPG13) will further encourage local authorities to view planning applications for refuelling facilities for cleaner fuels more favourably. This is expected to be published later this year.

My Department's Ministers and officials have met a range of vehicle manufacturers to discuss the development of the gas vehicle market. The Energy Saving Trust is also in close touch with vehicle manufacturers, encouraging them to introduce production line gas vehicles. I am encouraged to know that several vehicle manufacturers are considering doing so.

Grants under the Powershift programme focus on new cars (but also those of up to one year old), encouraging manufacturers to develop high quality production line gas vehicles, so as to reduce the cost and lead to the wider use of gas fuelled vehicles. Also, the older a vehicle is, the harder is it to guarantee that a gas conversion will lead to emission reductions.