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£50m DfT fund to push eco-van fleets

Date: 13 November 2007   |   Author: Guy Bird

Jim Fitzpatrick

With echoes of the failed LPG Powershift subsidies from 2004, the Government has earmarked up to £50 million to help public sector fleets kick-start the market for lower emission LCVs.

In a statement on 7 November, transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick declared: "Vans account for around 15% of carbon emissions from road transport, but currently there are no mass market low carbon models on offer to the UK van buyer - although the technology to create them exists."

The money set aside - initially £20m but with an additional £30m on standby to develop the scheme - will help public sector fleets buy technology deemed to be 'low carbon' and should encourage manufacturers to make them too, as Fitzpatrick added: "We aim to give investors and manufacturers confidence in the existence of a market for lower carbon vans, to encourage them to bring them to market more quickly than they would do otherwise."

The bulk of the cash has been set aside for lower carbon vans of any technology type, but money to allow public sector fleets to trial more unconventional vehicles, such as all-electric vans and plug-in hybrid cars, could feature longer term. A tender will be issued in two weeks to find a suitable firm to do the procurement work and the winner will be announced in early 2008. This could be a lease firm or even the Energy Savings Trust.

Fleets that have expressed interest in the scheme include the Metropolitan police, Transport for London, the Royal Mail and the Government Car and Despatch Agency.