Fleet News

Environment Agency stirs up car policy controversy

THE Environment Agency has introduced a car lease scheme which encourages staff to drive more powerful vehicles the more business miles they clock up - with planned incentives worth up to £1,600 of taxpayers' money per driver.The scheme has been condemned by some staff as 'hypocritical' and 'unnecessary' as the Government launches an integrated transport policy aimed at encouraging greater use of public transport, bicycles and alternative fuel vehicles.

But, this week the Environment Agency, which bills itself as 'enhancing the world we live in', defended its new car scheme, which replaces an essential car user scheme under which staff use their own vehicles on Agency business and are reimbursed through a mileage rate, saying: 'The new scheme allows staff to drive modern, fuel-efficient vehicles, while the old scheme saw some staff driving older, less environmentally-friendly cars. The intention is to phase out the essential user scheme'

The Agency has 2,000 essential car users under a scheme it inherited when the organisation was established in April last year, 1,715 on the Agency leased car scheme under which staff clocking up more than 5,000 business miles a year qualify for a car and a liveried fleet of 1,750 mainly commercial vehicles.

An Agency spokesman said the new car scheme not only aimed to encourage staff to drive 'cleaner' cars, but also to improve operational effectiveness, value for money and to maintain a credible public image. A flat mileage rate had been introduced to stop people clocking up so called 'wasted miles' and making a profit out of their reimbursement.

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