Headlines: March 21st, 2006

Somerset County Council and the county’s police force have taken delivery of cars that use a new alcohol-based fuel. The 40-strong fleet will use a bioethanol-based product and it is estimated that they will cut carbon dioxide emissions in the county by an estimated 120 tonnes a year.The cars are among only a handful in the country that can use the newly-available ‘E85’ fuel, which consists of 85 per cent bioethanol and 15 per cent petrol. So far there is just one ‘eco’ fuel pump, which was opened in Norfolk last week but more are expected to follow soon in Somerset.

Now the Local Government Association has called for the number of pumps providing E85 to be expanded so all local authorities can use environmentally-friendly cars. The LGA says councils have a long track record of providing energy efficient vehicles. It says that if every car-owner switched to bioethanol, carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by over 20 million tonnes a year. More particularly the Association estimates that if every council in England and Wales took on just 10 bioethanol cars emissions would be cut by around 12,000 tonnes annually.

The chairman of Somerset County Council, Alan Gloak, said the authority and its partners were proud to be leading the way in promoting bioethanol as part of its goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010, and he urged other councils to follow the county’s lead.

Cllr David Sparks, who chairs, the LGA’s Environment Board, said, “Councils have a long track record of providing energy-efficient vehicles, but we want every council in the country to benefit from a fleet running on the new fuel. The first step towards this would be to increase the number of pumps selling E85 so that everyone can do their bit to tackle global warming.”