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Parliamentarians call on the Government to introduce a more environmentally friendly petrol, E10

3 min read

A cross-party group of influential MPs has written to Government Ministers demanding action on the introduction of a more environmentally friendly petrol which also supports British industry and farming.

The signatories, including former Government Ministers, Select Committee Chairs and Shadow spokespeople, call on key Government figures including Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to show leadership on tackling transport emissions by introducing E10 fuel by the end of the year. 

The letter is headed up by Environment Select Committee Chair Neil Parish MP and All Party Parliamentary Group for British Bioethanol Chair Nic Dakin MP. It is supported by a range of other Parliamentarians including Shadow Transport Minister Karl Turner, SNP Transport Spokesman Alan Brown, former Transport Minister Robert Goodwill and former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott.

E10 is regular unleaded petrol blended with 10% bioethanol – a low carbon renewable fuel which can lower carbon emissions and other pollutants. It is used in many countries throughout the world, accounting for 95% of petrol sales in USA and is the biggest selling petrol in many European countries such as France, Belgium and Finland. Currently the UK only has E5 (a 5% blend) and it has been estimated that doubling the level of bioethanol would be the emissions savings equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from the road.

So far the Government has shied away from pleas to mandate the introduction of E10 despite the petrol companies, which would need to implement it, calling for them to do so. 

Bioethanol typically offers around 60% carbon savings compared to standard petrol, helping the country meet its climate change commitments, and can also reduce NOx, particulate matter and carcinogens which can cause poor air quality and impact on public health.

Bioethanol is fermented from feed wheat which is grown by British farmers and would not otherwise go into the food chain. A co-product of protein-rich animal feed is also produced for livestock farmers, displacing potentially less-sustainable imported soy products. Around 2,000 farms throughout the UK rely on this domestic market, which is worth around £150m premium to British agriculture. 

The North East of England has two of Europe’s largest bioethanol plants but the industry has been struggling due to Government delays on its environmental commitments. In November last year Hull-based Vivergo Fuels, which is also the country’s largest brewery, closed for four months due to poor market conditions and a lack of legislative progress.  

EFRA Select Committee Chair Neil Parish MP commented:

“Several Parliamentary Committees have expressed frustration at the slow speed with which we are trying to tackle emissions from road transport whilst also reminding us of the need to keep carbon emissions reductions and air quality tightly bound together. Here we have a ready-and-waiting solution which is also of huge benefit to British farmers and it’s about time we got on with implementing it.”

Nic Dakin MP, Chair of the APPG for British Bioethanol added:

“The bioethanol industry is a major employer in the North of England, contributing over £1bn to the economy and supporting around 6,000 jobs, providing STEM skills and apprenticeships, and working with local education providers. Major British companies chose to invest in this industry on the back of Government pledges which have not been seen through. We need to act on this if we want to see further investment in the renewables industry going forward.

“Tackling transport emissions immediately is vital for our environment and our public health, and E10 is one of the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective ways of doing this in the short-term. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation passed by Parliament in April allows the introduction of E10, and it’s vital that the Government shows leadership and mandates its introduction as soon as possible.” 

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