HC Deb 28 March 2003 vol 402 cc416-8W
Mr. Don Foster

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what targets he has set for his Department and agencies to change to a vehicle fleet that is powered by alternative fuels; [103300]

(2) what steps have been taken to persuade Government Departments and agencies to switch to alternative fuelled vehicles in their fleets; [103303]

(3) how many vehicles are run by his (a) Department and (b) agencies broken down by those powered by (i) liquid petroleum gas, (ii) reformulated natural gas (compressed or liquefied), (iii) electric battery, (iv) hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell, (v) methanol (internal combustion engine or fuel cell, (vi) cleaner gasoline (zero sulphur emissions), (vii) other alternative fuel, (viii) hybrid internal combustion and electrification; [103298]

(4) how many official ministerial vehicles in his fleet run on alternative fuels; and what plans he has to increase their number; [103301]

(5) what plans he has (a) to convert to alternative fuels and (b) to replace with new vehicles powered by alternative fuels vehicles in the fleet of his (i) Department and (ii) agencies; [103299]

(6) what plans he has to display on departmental vehicles powered by alternative fuels information to raise public awareness of the environmental, health and financial impact of vehicles powered by alternative fuels; [103302]

(7) what Government initiatives there are to encourage the conversion or replacement of vehicles in the fleets of Government Departments and their agencies to those using alternative fuels; and if he will make a statement. [103304]

Mr. Jamieson

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible within the Government for sustainable development policy, including 'Greening Government' issues.

In July last year DEFRA launched the "Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate" which set targets to be achieved by 2006 for environmental performance including: reducing road transport vehicle CO2 by 10 per cent. requiring at least 10 per cent. of all fleet cars to be alternatively fuelled.

To assist transport managers in Government Departments and Agencies to implement environmentally friendly transport strategies, my Department has produced "Driving towards a better environment—a guide to choosing and using cleaner vehicles", including comprehensive information on cleaner vehicles such as LPG, battery electric and hybrid vehicles. (No fuel cell vehicles are currently available on the market.) Advice and help is also available through my Department's 'TransportEnergy' Best Practice Programme.

In my own Department and its Agencies, we are already over half-way towards the 2006 target for alternatively fuelled cars set last year.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Mobility Advice and Vehicle Information Service and Vehicle Inspectorate (VI) use a total of 58 LPG vehicles representing 5.5 per cent. of the total fleet. However, the scope for further alternatively fuelled vehicles is limited by the emergency and specialist nature of their use. For example Highway Agency's vehicles are mainly motorway and winter maintenance vehicles including snowploughs or gritters and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's vehicles are used for emergency services and carry search and rescue equipment. LPG vehicles in the DVLA and VI fleets are badged to indicate that they are run on this cleaner fuel.

The Department has four ministerial cars leased from the Government Car and Despatch Agency, one of which uses LPG.