It is also planned to make the system available to fleets after a rigorous programme of in-house testing to ensure its accuracy. Information about a vehicle's emissions, such as particulates (PM10s) and oxides of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, is entered on a database and a calculation provides a single number showing a car's emissions rating. The system is the brainchild of Don Ridley, regional process industries regulations manager for the Environment Agency, who has presented it to the Inland Revenue and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in a move which could have an impact on the shape of company car tax in 2002.
Using a standard guide to the effect of different pollutants available at the Environment Agency, Ridley created a spreadsheet which weighted different pollutants according to their effect on the environment. This also included the effect of producing the fuels, not just burning them in an engine. He said: 'I wanted a system that actually proved if the fuels were cleaner, rather than relying on second-hand information. Using this system, fleets can justify decisions that have been made and manufacturers and converters can justify their green claims. To do that you must look beyond the exhaust pipe and take a holistic approach to pollution.'
The system is expected to be available for use internally by the end of this year before it will be available to fleets nationwide. Ridley is aiming to build-in information which would take into account the environmental impact of actually building a car and the 'green' cost of scrapping the vehicle.