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Balance diesel ‘Boris tax’ with LPG autogas support

News emerged in recent days that the office of London Mayor Boris Johnson is lobbying the government to introduce tax penalties for diesel vehicles in a bid to encourage drivers into cleaner cars.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Johnson’s senior environment adviser Matthew Pencharz pointed out that diesel’s share of the car market has boomed from 10 per cent to more than half in the last 15 years. But, he added, “diesel has exacerbated greatly the air quality problem in London.”

The Mayor’s office is now pressing the government to introduce financial penalties for diesel vehicles of all ages through vehicle excise duty. It argues that such measures should be rolled out nationwide because air pollution is a national problem, and a change in car buyer behaviour would benefit the whole country. “We want to see a bit less diesel and a bit more petrol,” said Mr Pencharz.

While we agree that encouraging drivers to move away from diesel is a positive step, our view is that this only takes us halfway to an ideal conclusion. What we’d like to see is a bit less diesel and a lot more LPG autogas, the cleanest fuel on the forecourt and widely available today.

If Boris is serious about tackling traffic-based air pollution in his own city first and foremost, we’d urge him to reintroduce the congestion charge alternative fuel discount for LPG autogas vehicles straight away. He should then add to his calls for government action a strong argument that manufacturers must support cleaner LPG autogas by offering UK buyers the same choice of factory converted models already available from showrooms in Europe.

The potential environmental benefit speaks for itself. LPG autogas burns cleanly and produces up to 120 times less of the harmful small particulates found in the tailpipe emissions of some diesel vehicles, as well as 20 times fewer oxides of nitrogen than diesel and 50 per cent fewer than petrol. This puts it among the forefront of eco-friendly fuels that the Mayor favours, and well ahead of the petrol he also advocates.

The government already recognises the green credentials of LPG autogas with a discounted level of fuel duty. It’s important now that Boris Johnson gives it the same recognition as he urges drivers to switch from diesel to cleaner alternatives.

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