NGV Network expresses concern at “misdirected” budget

27th Nov 2017


The Natural Gas Vehicle Network (NGVN) has expressed concern at the content of the Chancellor’s 2017 budget statement which featured weak action on diesel cars, generous investment for electric vehicles and nascent technologies but no mention of gas-powered transport and its potential to deliver large emissions reductions.

Within this year’s budget, half a billion pounds has been allocated to support charging points for electric vehicles, and there were tokenistic temporary measures to put car drivers off diesel, but there was no mention of investment in alternatives for heavier vehicles such as lorries and buses, despite their disproportionate contribution to transport emissions.

 Mike Foster, CEO of NGVN, said: “Once again the Treasury are keen to loosen the purse strings for electric vehicle infrastructure despite large amounts of investment having already gone into this, but have nothing to say regarding support for bringing down emissions from diesel HGVs and buses. You would have thought that with these vehicles being such low-hanging fruit and the enormous potential for decarbonised, renewable gas fuels, some of which are already being used in the freight sector, the Government would want to boost a success story.”

 “They say they’re serious about tackling illegal levels of pollutants, primarily from diesel engines, but then allocate millions for white elephant projects like driverless cars and artificial intelligence. With no viable electric alternative for HGVs, it is time they recognised the areas in which the greatest impact on emissions can be made in the shortest time and for the lowest level of subsidy”

 Recent figures produced for the Department for Transport show that whilst heavy good vehicles constitute only 5% of vehicle miles travelled and just 2% of vehicles on the road, they emit 21% of total transport-derived NOX and 16% of transport greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to even the newest diesel Euro VI HGVs, a gas-powered equivalent reduces NO2 emissions by an impressive 74% over a variety of cycles, total NOX emissions by 41% and particulate emissions by 96%.

 The £200 million announced to support local authorities in taking action on poor quality is welcome, but may not be enough with the list of areas needing to develop plans likely to grow substantially. NGVN is calling on the Government to support infrastructure for gas-powered vehicles, such as overseeing the creation of a national network of filling stations, as well as encouraging fleet operators, hauliers and bus companies to switch from diesel to gas in order to bring down harmful emissions.