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Renewable Fuels Agency launches to criticism

Date: 08 November 2007   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

New transport secretary Ruth Kelly

Business car operators have been told not to hold their breath over short-term Government fiscal moves to encourage bioethanol or E85 despite the creation of the Renewable Fuels Agency by transport secretary Ruth Kelly.

Instead the fleet community needs to increase pressure on manufacturers to specify and approve more diesel models capable of running on B30 biodiesel, with its economic and infrastructure advantages.

That was the view of Phil Maud, director of filling stations for Morrisons supermarkets, which has led the way in establishing a limited network of E85 pumps.

He said: "Criticism of the pre-Budget statement for doing nothing to move E85 forward probably spurred the Government to set up this agency. There is no movement beyond the token commitment to have 5% of transport fuels sourced from biofuels by 2010."

Morrisons is pressing manufacturers, particularly Ford, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen to clarify which of their diesel engines can run unmodified on B30.

Maud explained: "The fleet sector needs approved specifications because potentially there are a million vans and cars which require no modifications to run on B30. Then we can attach clear stickers to our B30 pumps advising people which cars can run on a fuel costing no more than standard diesel to produce."

He called on the Government to tax fuel on energy efficiency, which would offset E85's 20% to 30% fuel consumption penalty and encourage greater use of a fuel with 70% lower well to tail pipe CO2 ratings. E85 is only 2p cheaper a litre than unleaded petrol.

The RFA will become operational next April and Ruth Kelly said it would ensure that biofuels used in the UK would come from sustainable sources and save the maximum amount of carbon.

She said the agency would work with interested parties, which did not include the motor industry or the business car sector. Her list covered the oil industry, environmental groups, motorists and the general public.