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The consultation, which is launched jointly with the Energy Saving Trust, will decide the future direction of the Government’s Powershift clean fuel programme (see related story), and how it should be funded over the next three years in order to maximise the programme’s health and environmental benefits.

In order to cut vehicle emissions in the most cost effective manner, the Government is proposing to reduce the average level of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) car and van conversions from 1 August this year, with a tightening of the eligibility of grants from 1 April next year in order to give priority to light vehicles which traditionally use diesel and to target vehicles operating in areas of traditionally poor air quality. By April 2003, the Government expects that the market for LPG vehicles will have expanded considerably, and so will launch a further consultation exercise on whether a need for funding remains, at the end of 2002. Further proposals in the consultation document include incentives for the development of the market for electric vehicles in the public sector.

“Over the past four years, the Powershift programme has had increasing success in encouraging the wider supply and use of vehicles powered by cleaner fuels such as gas and electricity,” said Lord Whitty of the DETR, in his capacity as Transport Minister. “This year the programme is on course to support the purchase of over 6,000 vehicles – more than three times last year’s total.”

“I am confident that our proposals, combined with the recent budget announcements of a further cut in duty on gas fuels and zero vehicle excise duty for electric vehicles, will give industry and transport operators the confidence to continue to invest in clean fuel vehicles and refuelling facilities,” Whitty said.

Responses to the consultation should be sent by 30 June 2001 to: Sue Billson, DETR, Zone 4/19, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, LONDON SW1P 4DR, telephone: 020 7944 2412, or by e-mailto sue_billson@detr.gsi.gov.uk.

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