Government gives £69 million towards cleaner vehicles

Over the next three years, the Government is to give an extra £69 million to tackle pollution and cut the cost of motoring by promote cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, announced on 20 November at the climate change conference in The Hague.

The increased funding for 2001 to 2004 is part of the Government’s response to the final report of the Cleaner Vehicles Task Force, set up in 1997 to encourage the development of, and markets for, quieter and more fuel efficient vehicles.

£30 million of the extra money is to go to the ongoing Powershift programme, which aims to develop a sustainable market for cleaner fuel vehicles in the UK. The programme provides grants towards the additional cost of purchasing new gas and electric vehicles, and the new money is intended to aid the purchase of around 35,000 vehicles.

A further £30 million will be used to expand the Cleaner Vehicles Programme to tackle urban pollution from urban vehicles such as buses and taxis to help local authorities meet their air quality objectives. The programme gives grants towards the cost of fitting vehicles with emissions reduction equipment or converting them to run on alternative fuels.

The final £9 million of the extra money is to go to support the introduction of technologies such as fuel cell (see related story) and hybrid vehicles (see related story). The programme’s activities will also be influenced by the outcome of a web-based consultation exercise on fuels and technologies to be launched by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions over the winter.

“Motorists can also play their part by choosing cleaner, fuel-efficient vehicles; this is not only good for the environment, it can save drivers money on fuel too,” noted Prescott.

“This announcement is a major boost for the development of cleaner vehicle technology in this country,” said Jonathan Murray, Head of the Energy Saving Trust’s TransportAction division. “We are currently seeing tremendous growth in the market and this investment will inspire greater certainty and confidence among all the key industry players.”

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