Ben Riley-Smith, 11 July 2015

Ministers prepare battle with European Commission over insistence oil companies replace regular petrol with cleaner but less efficient hybrid

Millions of British drivers could be forced to spend more filling up their cars after oil companies came under renewed pressure from Brussels to roll out environmentally friendly petrol.

The European Commission wants Shell, BP and Exxon to replace regular unleaded petrol with a fuel made up from more biofuels to help Britain hit renewable targets.

However the switch could cost drivers an estimated £80 more on petrol every year because it is less efficient and results in fewer miles to the gallon.

The switchover – which Brussels wants to be implemented in the coming years – could make millions of old cars redundant because they cannot run on the eco-friendly petrol.

The AA, Britain’s motoring association, warned the move would be a “price increase through the back door” and would punish families living in the countryside who have no choice but to drive.

Ministers in the Department for Transport are said to be on the war path with Brussels over the proposed change amid fears it would “shaft” British drivers.

It comes after a European Commission directive demanded member states ensure 10 per cent of energy used for transport comes from renewable sources by 2020.

The Conservatives are under pressure to ensure Britain meets the commitment by the end of this parliament, with ministers recently briefed on the topic.

Brussels wants oil companies to roll out E10 petrol – made from 10 per cent ethanol, a biofuel created from corn – to ensure Britain meet its commitments.

But Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is understood to oppose the measure and is due to launch renewed efforts to block the move – including facing down the Commission in a meeting in September.

His department believes the electrification of Britain’s railways and encouraging take up of electric cars is a more efficient way to meet the renewable target.

“This pet project of the Commission could be costly to British motorists and we plan to oppose it,” a government source told The Telegraph.

“The EU are trying to put their lawns in our tanks. We will end their war on the British motorist.”

It comes after the adoption of E10 in Germany triggered a furious reaction from drivers who boycotted the new fuel.

Oil companies in the country were forced to halt the roll-out as ministers held an emergency “gasoline summit” to solve the problem.

In Britain a family driving 10,000 miles a year l is estimated to end buying more fuel and spending an extra £80 if forced to use E10.

Most cars made before 2000 are also incompatible with E10, meaning as many as 8.6 million older vehicles on the roads in Britain today could be adversely affected if the fuel is adopted.

The decision to adopt the fuel can be made by oil companies alone at any point but ministers believe by taking on Brussels publicly they can dissuade firms from making the switch.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said using E10 would be a “retrograde” move and a “step too far” for motorists already struggling with the price of petrol.

“Driving is not a luxury, it is not a choice. If you live in a rural area you have to drive to get to work and to get to the shops,” he said.

“This would be a price increase by the back door, because if you are getting fewer miles to the gallon you are paying more for your fuel. It would have a dramatic impact on people’s lifestyle.”

Extracted in full from The Telegraph, UK.