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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor John Maslen.

Clearing the air over bio-diesel use

SIR – I write in reference to your article on bio-diesel which claims that manufacturers of injection systems don’t advise the use of the fuel (Fleet News June 16). I do have sympathy for fleet operators given the confusing data around regarding the use of bio-diesel.

With this in mind, we at Petroplus have taken time to collate data on the individual vehicle manufacturers’ positions and also the fuel injection equipment manufacturers’ position regarding 5% bio-diesel blend fuels, like our Bio-plus product.

The evidence we have from the fuel injection equipment and vehicle manufacturers shows that they all support the EN590 fuel quality standard and this allows blending of up to 5% bio-diesel, so long as the bio-diesel conforms to the EN14214 standard. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and its European equivalent, the ACEA, support this position.

In addition, we have evidence from our own fleet and from many customers’ fleets running on bio-plus that engine performance is better.

We also have some indications from customers that the fuel pumps are in better condition when running on bio-fuel, owing to the improved lubrication of the fuel.

It is true that the EU target is 5.75% bio-fuel. However, this is a target set in relation to fuel energy content, rather than by volume.

As far as I know, the UK Government has not yet set a target for 2010. From my involvement in the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership fuels committee, I think it is unlikely that they will set a target for more than 5% by volume, as this would exceed the EN590 limit.

I am aware that the issue of the conflicting EU directive and EN590 standard has been recognised at national level and by the EU and that this issue is likely to be reviewed and assessed by the European standards committees, where all vehicle manufacturers and fuel providers will have an input into an appropriate fuel quality standard.

In summary, therefore, I would suggest that while there has been confusion around the fuels market relating to bio-diesel fuels like Bio-plus, this confusion is clearing and the vehicle and fuel providers are working together to ensure that fleet operators do not suffer any warranty problems.

I trust that you will be able to further clarify the position stated in the above referenced article and assure your readers that by buying EN590 fuels, they will not jeopardise their vehicle warranties.

Ian Waller
Petroplus Refining, Teesside

The idea of paying for using our roads is perverse

SIR – As someone using rail for some freight movements, I would point out that even if rail freight were to double, which would create capacity issues for the network, it would only remove about 6% of lorry movements from the roads.

This would not create a noticeable difference to the congestion experienced on our roads. However, I agree with most of your readers’ comments that the idea of congestion-based pay-as- you-go road charging is perverse.

This requires the user to pay more as the service he receives gets worse. The Government has a reverse incentive. The more congestion it creates by refusing to meet demand, the more revenue it raises.

While I might not agree that publicly-owned land was given to a private company to build a motorway (M6 Toll) on which it has the right to charge what it likes, and does, the user is at least paying for extra service by way of increased capacity resulting in greater certainty of journey arrival time.

The Government has previously announced lorry road user charging for freight vehicles that will allow separate taxation regimes for freight and car traffic.

This will be achieved by fitting 500,000 black boxes to vehicles for which the holding of detailed records is normal in an industry that is highly regulated. Now it is proposing to fit in excess of 20 million boxes that would allow it to track and trace every vehicle journey undertaken because the Government appears to believe that people choose to sit in traffic jams for the purpose of making unnecessary journeys.

It preaches the laudable message of social inclusion, yet this proposed legislation would create the scenario where only the financially better off could continue to afford to travel by car at their discretion, creating further social division.

Following the theme of perversity, those who will gain the most from reduction in fuel duty will be those driving 4x4s and other gas guzzlers at the expense of those driving hybrids or vehicles with a similar good environmental performance.

This represents a poorly thought out piece of social engineering by a Government which, taking a Freight Transport Association slogan, is looking down the barrel of ‘Jams in front: economy behind.’

The true solution is to provide an efficient trunk network with sufficient capacity supported by good public transport networks from modal interchanges to service the large conurbations.

Andrew Bridge,
General manager, Distribution, Castle Cement

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