A plan to give every new car in Britain a colour-coded "energy label" indicating its pollution levels has been killed off by the car giant Ford.
The US car maker, which has claimed it is a champion of "green" motoring, objected to the proposal on behalf of the British motor industry last week, forcing ministers to abandon the scheme.
Environmentalists are furious at the industry's veto, because they fear it will now take at least four years before a similar scheme is likely to be introduced by the European Commission. In that time, more than 10 million new cars will have been sold, including hundreds of thousands of fuel-hungry 4x4s and luxury cars.
The car label was modelled on the colour-coded A to G energy label on every new fridge, freezer and washing machine sold in Britain. The scheme has reduced sales of electricity-hungry appliances.
The proposal came unstuck last week at a meeting of the Government's advisory body on green cars, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which includes car makers, environment and transport groups.
Ford said the industry objected because the European Commission has a similar plan and the public would be confused.
Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The car industry repeatedly demands that consumers are left to make a free choice, but their kneejerk reaction blocks any proposal to let consumers make a greener choice."
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