HC Deb 28 April 2004 vol 420 cc997-8W
Vera Baird

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, (1) if he will take steps to encourage vehicle manufacturers to undertake or fund research into designs for a fuel tank that would not allow diesel to spill onto the highway, even if over-filled; [168612]

(2) if he will launch a campaign to raise awareness amongst commercial goods vehicle drivers of the risks that diesel spillage due to over-filled fuel tanks can cause to other road users, especially motorcyclists; [168613]

(3) if he will support the campaign by The Road Users Campaign to Kill Diesel Spills to reduce the number of diesel spillages on British roads; [168614]

(4) if he will make non-spill fuel caps compulsory for all new diesel vehicles to prevent dangerous diesel spillages on the road. [168615]

Mr. Jamieson

I recognise the problems that can be caused by spilled diesel, particularly to motorcyclists, which is why my Department has launched a review into this issue. Part of this review is looking into the possibility of raising the profile of the existing spillage prevention Regulations. Until this study is complete I will not be making any proposals or recommendations concerning the construction and use of diesel fuel tanks in respect of preventing diesel spillage.

The European fuel tanks Directive 2000/8/EC has been mandatory, since 3 May 2003 for cars.

At present there are no pre-registration checks on the fuel tanks of commercial vehicles and buses. However, these vehicles will have to meet Whole Vehicle Type Approval by 2008 at the earliest and completely by 2011, although manufacturers are all likely to comply before this date. The new Type Approval incorporates the fuel tank Directive.

The correct fitting and operation of fuel tank filler caps is now checked during a vehicle's annual test which will have a positive effect on preventing diesel spillage.