Top-ranking officials will shortly be seen in biodiesel-powered Jaguar XJs, and targets for biofuel use nationally are set to be unveiled in the Budget next month.
With its flagship fleet going green, Whitehall hopes to lead an environmental charge from the front, with other UK fleets following suit.
Cabinet members have traditionally been chauffeured in Rover 75s and Vauxhall Omegas, but will soon have the choice of a Jaguar or a hybrid Toyota Prius.
The Government Car and Dispatch Agency (GCDA), which runs the ministerial fleet, has shifted its policy on new vehicles in the wake of MG Rover’s collapse and the end of Omega production.
Ministers will have the choice of the hybrid or the larger, more powerful Jaguar when their current cars are defleeted.
The choice of cars was reached through a combination of considerations, including value for money and environmental impact. The Jaguar was chosen for security reasons because of its extra power, and also because it was British-built, according to the GCDA. The Prius, however, is imported from Japan.
Agency chief executive Roy Burke said: ‘GCDA is committed to ensuring that all its vehicles are as environmentally friendly as they can be while meeting the needs of Government. All new vehicles purchased by the agency will be environmentally friendly.
‘They are either a vehicle with a diesel engine capable of running on biodiesel or a hybrid vehicle.’ A quarter of the current GCDA fleet is powered by greener means. It runs 22 hybrid cars, 11 diesel cars capable of running on biodiesel and one LPG vehicle.
In November, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that 5% of all UK fuel would come from a renewable source by 2010.
The DfT has also revealed that interim target levels for 2008/09 and 2009/10 are due to be announced in this year’s Budget, on March 22.
A DfT spokeswoman said: ‘This particular review covers the use of ministers’ cars, but it is intended to lead by example. Fleets have a big part to play.’
The ‘greening’ of the ministerial fleet is only the first step for Governmental transportation, with many other departments’ fleets in disarray over the introduction of alternatively-fuelled vehicles.
Last month, Fleet News reported that the bulk of Governmental fleets were unaware of their green targets and some did not even know how many vehicles they had.
The Government was castigated for such failings in a report by the Sustainable Development Commission entitled ‘Leading by Example? Not Exactly…’