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Ministers Blamed For Silent Killer Air Pollution Epidemic

Ministers have failed motorists and are putting lives at risk from a silent epidemic of air pollution by failing to back cheaper, cleaner fuel, two energy giants claimed yesterday.

Cars run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which are sold by 17 of the biggest car makers in Germany but none in Britain, produce 11 per cent less CO2 and less than half the amount of harmful nitrous oxide pollution than identical petrol cars, according to analysis of a German government database. Pollution was eleven times less than from comparable diesel cars.


Pollution kills 29,000 people each year in Britain, with London and Oxford the worst affected cities.


Supporters of LPG technology claim that many lives would be saved from a switch to cleaner fuel and that motorists would enjoy sharply lower costs.


“You have a lot less nasty carcinogenic things floating around in LPG,” said Dr Eric Johnson, editor of Environmental Impact Assessment Review.


The fuel, which is sold under the Autogas brand name at 1,400 Shell, BP, Asda and Morrisons garages in Britain, is half the price of conventional fuel at 70p per litre, compared with 137p for petrol and 142p for diesel.


Duty is currently 45p less than for petrol. However Shell and Calor, the two companies who jointly market the fuel in Britain, claim that the Government’s failure to guarantee to hold down duty in the long term is deterring drivers. It costs £1,200 to convert a typical family car such as a Ford Focus to run on LPG. At present no car manufacturers offer ready-converted vehicles in Britain even though most manufacturers do in Germany, where the Government has committed to keeping duty down for a decade.


Linda Gomersall, general manager for Autogas Ltd, said: “It is all down to government policy and the Government is quite faddish. Rather than have a long-term view and a long-term policy they seem to skip from one fad to the next.” 


Chris Weeks, finance manager for Shell UK, said: “This is a big part of the fuel mix in Europe but not here because of government commitment.” 


The Treasury and the Department for Transport declined to comment.


Source: Philip Pank Transport Correspondent

Published at 12:01AM, October 4 2013