TRANSPORT: Four-star to be banned

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FOUR-STAR leaded petrol is to be banned from sale in the new millennium under a European directive, the Government confirmed last night.

The Transport minister Glenda Jackson said in a Commons written reply that this type of fuel would be forced off the forecourts from 1 January 2000 under regulations being prepared by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions. The move would bring Britain into line with a directive on fuel quality passed by the European Parliament and the European Council last month, a department spokeswoman said.

About five million cars in Britain run on leaded petrol, with three million of those able to be converted to run on unleaded petrol, according to the department. Oil companies were devising lead-free alternatives for four-star cars without the need to install a catalytic converter, the spokeswoman said.

Ms Jackson stressed the new rules would allow "a very limited supply" of four-star fuel for "historic vehicles". This would probably be made available through classic car clubs.

Four-star has been linked with brain damage in inner-city children and is banned in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada.