'Green' labels flag up fuel efficient vehicles

A substantial reduction in traffic emissions is seen as a key element in tackling global warming. Government and industry are combining forces to promote more environmentally sustainable vehicles and fuels, with a Cleaner Vehicle Labelling Scheme the latest joint initiative. In this months Tracking Trends feature LAWE focuses on new technology and continuing development of specialised RCVs and recycling vehicles. A complementary preview of this year's CV Show takes a selective look at exhibits relevant to the waste management and environmental sectors. Editor Alexander Catto reports.

Car buyers can now assess environmentally friendly vehicles under a scheme launched by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling at last month's Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Annual Conference.

The Cleaner Vehicle Labelling Scheme uses new colour-coded labels to flag up the fuel efficiency of vehicles.

All 42 car brands in the UK have signed up to the introduction of the voluntary labelling scheme, and the label is due to be in all UK car showrooms by 1 September. As well as highlighting the fuel efficiency of every new car on sale, the labels also contain information on how much motorists can expect to pay in fuel bills in a typical year for a particular car, and whether the car qualifies for a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty.

Speaking at the event held in conjunction with the opening of that the "Green by Design" exhibition of environmental transport at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Mr Darling said: "I am delighted to launch this vehicle labelling scheme. These colour-coded labels will allow people to see at a glance just how fuel-efficient a particular vehicle is, and - critically - how it compares with other models."

The Transport Secretary continued: "This shows the UK Government's commitment to tackling climate change. It shows what can be done when Government, industry and other stakeholders work in partnership to achieve shared goals. The labels will send a clear message to motorists that they can make a real difference by choosing clean, fuel-efficient cars."

The voluntary labelling scheme has been developed by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), a group set up by Government in 2003 to help find new ways of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from road transport.

SMMT Foresight Vehicle is also set to play a central role in cutting carbon dioxide emissions and other harmful pollutants from road transport. That was the message also delivered at the LowCVP event by SMMT president Tod Evans. Set up to win grants and manage the latest R&D projects in the automotive sector, SMMT Foresight Vehicle has already supported more than 100 initiatives. The list includes many that promise to cut vehicle weight, emissions and fuel consumption, including:

  • 2/4 SIGHT - a prototype engine which can switch automatically from two to four stroke operation, boosting vehicle performance while cutting CO2 output.
  • MIHPOW - a hybrid truck, promisingzero pollution during urban delivery, as well as better fuel consumption and lower operating costs.
  • GASPART - a prototype pollution control technology to trap and destroy nano-sized particulate emissions.
  • APPLE - the development of a strong, lightweight and easy-to-recycle chassis made of plastic.
  • "Technology is one of the three pillars of the EU carbon dioxide emission reduction strategy," commented Foresight Vehicle Director Nick Barter at the LowCVP conference. "Our team of experienced engineers is working to support many projects that will help deliver these and wider pollution reduction objectives."

    Freight transport policy

    The DfT has also been taking a look at wider freight transport issues. Transport Minister Tony McNulty recently announced details of a new approach to reducing the impact of freight transport on the environment and congestion and to improve safety.

    Setting out a series of initiatives Mr McNulty said: "Current freight programmes have separate budgets and are administered separately even though they all have the same objective. By bringing these programmes together into one funding pot we can focus on the overall aim of promoting cleaner, safer freight transport that does not add to congestion.

    "These new arrangements will provide better value for money for the taxpayer, and will ensure that the additional funding announced today to support the freight industry brings real benefits for the environment and the economy," he added.. The Government set out last July, in its White Paper, The Future of Transport, its intention to start administering grants to focus more on the overall objectives of reducing congestion, pollution and accidents, rather than promoting individual modes.

    Under the new arrangements it will:
  • Merge the water freight grants and sustainable road haulage budget into a single pot from April 2005.
  • From April 2007 extend the single pot to include rail freight grants including Freight Facilities Grant. Subject to the passage of the Railways Bill, the administration of rail and water freight grants will be brought together in to a single unit.
  • Prioritise schemes that offer the best value for money in terms of their impact on the environment, safety and congestion.
  • Set a minimum value for money threshold whereby every pound spent on grants will "buy" benefits valued at £1.50 or more.
  • In parallel, use funding from the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund to minimise the transport impacts of aggregates movements.
  • RCV Best Practice from FTA

    The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is playing an increasingly active role in the waste transport field dealing with important current issues. In 2003 a group of FTA member local authorities, formed a Refuse Vehicle Overload Technical Officer Group (TOG) with the aim of identifying the scale of overloading issues related to compaction RCVs.

    The FTA says that, although the control of the GVW of any vehicle rests with the operatives and managers of the operation, and manufacturers give good advice to operators on the "fine tuning" of the equipment, management of the individual axle loading, however, is not easy to control.

    In response to these issues, a "Best Practice" Guide*, endorsed by the VOSA, has been produced by the TOG, designed to assist operators in identifying problems and to implement good management procedures so as to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation. Included in the guide is advice at procurement and covers all aspects and build of the trucks to ensure that the vehicle is tailored to the needs of the operation.

    *RCV Procurement & Safe Operation - Best Practice Guide. Public Authority The guide is available free of charge to FTA members in electronic format.

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