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Letter: A natural fuel for the future?

Sir: Shauna Massey's report ('The jury on diesel is not yet closed', 18 October) explains the dilemma the environmentally-conscious motorist faces in choosing between a petrol- or diesel-powered car. But there could be a better solution if and when the Government so chooses.

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is a clean and safe fuel already being used elsewhere in the world in about one million vehicles. Compared with conventional petrol- or diesel- powered vehicles, natural gas vehicles (NGVs) have lower hydrocarbon emissions, give off less toxic exhaust substances including carcinogens, and less pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides. NGVs emit up to 30 per cent less carbon dioxide and up to 75 per cent less carbon monoxide.

The main thing stopping the development of compressed natural gas as a fuel in the UK is the tax regime. The Treasury is aware that the excise duty on CNG is currently disadvantageously set on a volume rather than a net calorific basis. It is hoped that the Government will see fit to stimulate the NGV industry in the forthcoming Budget by amending the legislation to encourage the growth of this environmentally attractive and healthier fuel.

The cost to the Exchequer will be negligible, but the benefits could be substantial in environmental and health terms. Furthermore, the use of this abundant indigenous fuel would free up more oil for export and help both our balance of payments and oil tax revenues.

Yours faithfully, NIGEL ESSEX Chairman, Bow Group Energy Committee Chiddingfold, Surrey 20 October