Milton Keynes Borough Council will introduce parking permits for gas vehicles next week, allowing free use of most of the town's central car parks. And other local authorities are being urged to create greater incentives to encourage the use of gas-powered vehicles with free car parking by the LP Gas Association.
The scheme in Milton Keynes is aimed at regular users of the town car parks and people who work in the town. The council is also increasing the number of pay and display parking areas, increasing parking facilities for motorcycles and pedal cycles, and is introducing an experimental scheme with 400 dedicated car-sharing bays.
Cllr Graham Mabbutt, the council cabinet member responsible for transport, said: 'Milton Keynes was designed for the car, but we have reached the stage where we now have to do something to avoid the type of congestion, leading to clogged roads and pollution, that plagues many other towns.
'With the various permits being introduced, we are confident that the Milton Keynes parking scheme will be much more user-friendly than those in surrounding towns.'
The council says it made its decision because LPG vehicles have a much lower rate of emissions of certain gases. It already runs several LPG vehicles in its own fleet and plans to invest in more.
It says the low emission rate was a key factor in implementing the new car parking arrangements in Milton Keynes, although LPG car users will still have to pay if they park in premium rate bays.
The LP Gas Association is now hoping other councils will follow suit and offer similar incentives for drivers switching to gas. Tom Fidell, director general of the association, said: 'We are delighted to support this initiative and encourage other councils to follow the lead of Milton Keynes to benefit from the significant environmental advantages of liquefied petroleum gas as a fuel.'
Moves to improve the infrastructure of LPG across the UK's network of filling stations are expected to result in a total of 1,200 pumps by the end of the year. Further incentives to persuade fleets to make the switch include a 100% discount for registered gas vehicles under the proposed congestion charging scheme for London.