Tax man cometh for car that runs on chip fat

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has entered a bizarre dispute with a man who runs his car on old chip pan oil, and claims it is the fuel of the future.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has entered a bizarre dispute with a man who runs his car on old chip pan oil, and claims it is the fuel of the future.

Martin Steele has discovered how to manufacture a new form of diesel from the oil and runs his Volvo estate on it.

But he has been angered to find the Treasury wants to levy nearly 50p a litre in fuel duty on the brew made in his Manchester back garden, the same as standard diesel, although his "bio-diesel" is acknowledged as a green alternative.

Now Gordon Brown is considering a special tax reduction for the fuel and on Wednesday his officials will meet Britain's handful of bio-diesel manufacturers.

There are just five - including Mr Steele - and they are demanding Mr Brown cuts tax on bio-diesel by a minimum 15p. That would give a fillip to the nascent industry and lead to the fuel being sold at petrol stations for as little as 40p a litre.

Proponents of the new fuel, made from recycled vegetable oil, claim it is carbon neutral because it absorbs as much of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as it produces. Nor does it rely on dwindling, underground oil reserves because the fuel is a by-product of crops such as oil seed rape.

Greenpeace has just lodged an order for 1,000 litres of fuel from a firm called Ebony Solutions, the only commercial manufacturer of bio-diesel in the UK.

The firm, based in Cheshire, produces 20,000 litres a week of bio-diesel by recycling vegetable oil donated by Sharwood's, the food manufacturer. The oil is left over from its mass production of its popular range of poppadoms. Mr Steele's oil comes from more humble origins, his local chippy and kebab shops, who give it free.

But he is not fussy about the source of his car's propulsion, merely evangelistic about its benefits. A sign in large yellow letters in the car's rear windscreen proclaims: "This car runs on fuel made from recycled vegetable oil".

Mr Steele says: "There is an enormous reservoir of waste vegetable oil out there. I make my fuel from waste oils taken from canteen refectories, chip shops and other fast-food outlets such as kebab bars."

Mr Steele became aware of bio-diesel after watching an item on alternative fuels on the children's television programme Newsround.

He began experimenting in his mother's garage before building a "catalytic cracker" in his backyard - a sort of large vat - in which he converts the vegetable oil into diesel. In the two years since he perfected his technique, his car has travelled 18,000 miles on used chip pan oil.

Representatives of the nascent bio-diesel industry will meet Stephen Timms, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, on Wednesday to stake their case for a reduction in tax.

They will try to persuade the Government that a tax reduction will make the fuel attractive to commercial manufact- urers while helping to end the West's reliance on Opec's oil-pricing cartel. At present they pay 48.8p per litre.

It could also boost Britain's farming industry six weeks after farmers and road hauliers brought the country to its knees by blocking oil depots.

Estimates show 5 per cent of Britain's diesel could be manufactured in the UK through vegetable oil crops such as rape seed, providing a huge financial benefit to farmers. Terry de Winne, a 60-year-old hovercraft engineer, is also making bio-diesel at his workshop in Bangor in Northern Ireland. He began experimenting with alternative fuels after receiving a Millennium Commission grant to investigate sustainable forms of energy for transport. What he came up with is bio-diesel.

"It is the only viable, available and sustainable transport fuel," he says. He hopes to set up four large scale bio-diesel plants in Northern Ireland but needs the Chancellor to bring down tax to make it economically attractive.

A Treasury spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Brown is reviewing the level of taxation on bio-fuels in the run-up tohis pre-budget report due next month, and the Department for the Environment is examining its environmental benefits.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?