Views are being sought during the next 12 weeks on whether cutting fuel duty is the most effective method of promoting biofuels, if the Government should do more to support biofuel production through increased grants and whether the Government should do more to provide information on biofuels and other renewable fuels, as well as other topics.
The Government estimates that the UK could be using about 12 million litres a month by 2005 – a six-fold increase over current biofuel sales.
Because most biodiesel is used in a blend of up to 5%, this would also mean that as much as 10% of all diesel used in the UK includes an element of biofuel. The Department for Transport hopes to see biofuels accounting for between 2-5% of total transport fuel sales by 2010.
It admits that critics will claim the target is unambitious, but added: 'Given the UK's low starting point, the considerable growth this target implies and the limited time between now and the target period, we feel it represents a realistic target for the UK.'
The European Union (EU) Directive sets key targets for biofuel use by 2005, stating that 2% of fuel use should be biodiesel by then, rising to 5.75% by 2010.
Transport Minister David Jamieson said: 'Biofuels can help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the transport sector, and good quality biofuel blends can be used in many of today's vehicles.
'The Government is already supporting biofuels by means of fuel duty incentives.We are today seeking views on what more we might do to encourage the development and use of biofuels, and on the levels of biofuels sales targets that we might set for 2005 and 2010.'
Experts suggest that to meet these targets, about 10% of arable farmland in England would need to be converted to growing crops for the fuel.