Gas vehicles, now we’re motoring

5th Nov 2018

 

I’m going to let you into a secret, I watched the Budget live. But that’s not the secret. As soon as the Chancellor sits down, the Treasury are allowed to publish the “Red Book” which contains all of the details. So once the dire Dad jokes had finished, and the Chancellors bottom hit the green bench (via the PM’s lap as it was crowded) I hit the refresh button on my laptop.

And bingo, on the Treasury website up popped the Red Book link and I was away – searching for something I expected to be tucked away in the detail, confident as I was of our arguments, there was a great deal at stake. Yes, I’m talking about the fuel duty differential between alternative fuels (such as gas) and diesel. Here is the exact extract:-

  • 3.43 Alternative fuels – Following review, the government will maintain the difference
    between alternative and main road fuel duty rates until 2032 to support the de-carbonisation of the UK transport sector, subject to review in 2024.

Thirty-five words that mean a great deal to the Natural Gas Vehicle Network, and importantly its membership. There will be huge commercial benefit arising from this decision. Once again, the gas network; gas be it compressed natural or LNG or biomethane will be at the heart of plans to decarbonisation of the transport sector. EVs, with their twenty mile range before recharge, may make the headlines but HGVs reducing carbon by between 20 per cent (natural gas) and 80 per cent (biomethane) will make the difference. I know which I want to be associated with.

How was it achieved? Through the involvement of members; their commitment and contributions and yes directly engaging with politicians and civil servants. After one of these meetings I received this comment:

“You put forward a compelling case yesterday on the duty differential and, while we both know the practical challenges of landing future commitments, I recognise how important the signalling is to industry. Ministers have committed to reporting at Budget, so that is where we’ll provide the update.”

On Monday, after the Budget, the same civil servant emailed me to say:

“In the end, Ministers completely got the need for certainty”.

Worth watching the Budget for I reckon.