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News insightCouncils could play greater role in reducing emissionsBy Gareth RobertsReduced business rates for fleets operating ultra low carbon vehicles is just one way local authorities could be doing more to encourage their wider use, a new report suggests.Councils have a range of planning, parking and traffic management powers they could deploy, but research from the RAC Foundation reveals they are reluctant to do so. Aside from a few examples, including the London Low Emission Zone and the Congestion Charge, the report says that local authorities look to central Government for advice, policy focus and funding. As a result, they are focusing too heavily on plug-in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure rather than taking a technology neutral approach to carbon reduction.BVRLA chief executive John Lewis said: "For some time the BVRLA has been arguing that Government incentives and policy need to focus on encouraging the use of all lower carbon vehicles, whether they are run on biofuel, petrol, diesel, elec­tricity or hybrid systems. Planning on the basis that businesses and people will either use trains, buses or an electric vehicle is not a viable option." Nevertheless, the majority of local authorities who responded to the survey (19 out of 48 respondents) have either introduced plug-in or hybrid technology to their fleet or are in the process of doing this (14 respondents). It is perhaps no coincidence then that the public sector has the lowest average CO2 emissions of any sector at 127g/km, according to Fleet200.The RAC Foundation says this is a positive sign and should be promoted to other organisations, sharing the lessons learned by the early adopters. However, those who had considered and rejected the idea did so mainly due to high initial costs.Interestingly, 12 local authorities are introducing procurement procedures requiring external contractors to use low emission vehicles. Westmin­ster has already implemented this. Among all local authorities, none had considered but rejected this idea outright, and many are drawing up their own procedures, indicating that this will be a popular incentive in the future.Transport Scotland is sponsoring a Low Carbon Vehicle Procure­ment Programme, whereby public sector agencies can purchase low carbon vehicles through one central buying framework that offers a range of discounts.Meanwhile, a number of councils are promoting the use low emission vehicles in car clubs. For example, Middlesbrough Council is leading the Eco Easterside Project that will deliver the UK's first electric-vehicle-only car club. It will be operated in partnership with Commonwheels, using Peugeot electric vehicles.Milton Keynes, as part of the Plugged-in Places programme, is one authority that has taken a lead on parking, having implemented reduced residen­tial, business and public parking charges for low carbon vehicles. Parking is offered free of charge 'Planning for the future on the basis that businesses and people will either use trains, buses or an electric vehicle is not a viable option'John Lewis, BVRLA

NewsinsightNews digestRemarketing analysisSalesfiguresFuel pricesCar RecruitmentreviewsManufacturer newsBy Simon Harris, deputy editor, Fleet NewsDiesel cars have been hit with a BIK supplement since the rules were changed in 2002, basing liability on CO2 emissions instead of mileage.To start with, only Euro4-compliant diesels would see the supplement waived, but as all new cars by 2005 had to meet those requirements, the diesel supplement became universal once again.But following our story highlighting that the rule only applied to cars "powered solely by diesel engines" (see News digest), HMRC has confirmed that diesel hybrids will not suffer the penalty. It makes sense. The rule was imposed because of air pollution issues from particulates and NOx gases, but a full diesel hybrid would run on electric with no tailpipe emissions for much of its time around town.But could this signify a warming of attitudes towards diesel in general? New engines are being designed to meet Euro6 emissions limits, where NOx gases are less than one-third of those permitted by Euro4 and particulates are a fifth of those allowed.The 3% supplement always seemed rather dubious, but now there are fewer reasons for any diesel car to be penalised in this way.EDITOR'S COMMENT"The 3% BIK supplement always seemed rather dubious"to electric vehicles, regardless of whether they are charging or not.Parking in future will also be provided with free electricity, but in order to access this free energy, drivers must sign up to become a member of the scheme at an annual cost of £50. Members will be provided with a swipe card to 'unlock' the cover on the charging point, which allows them to also lock the plug on to their vehicle.However, highway incentives are not something that have been taken up, or even considered by the majority of local authorities. Only one respondent, the London Borough of Hounslow, indicated that it was considering intro-ducing low carbon vehicle only lanes and allowing them to use bus lanes in future.Finally, a number of authorities said that they had considered congestion charging and road pricing, but that the measure had been rejected because it was deemed politically unacceptable, or that it was a part of an unsuccessful Transport Innovation Fund bid - a Department for Transport scheme operating from 2008 until 2010.>> Click here for the full report, Going Green: How local authorities can encourage the take-up of lower-carbon vehicles. authorities questioned, and are in progress in a number of other authorities (between 12 and 14), showing a growing trend. The local authority which stated that it had been considered but rejected said that they were difficult to endorse as the council had limited funding resources to install public charging points and lead by example to developers.2.3.8 Other measuresThe last question in this section of the survey looked at incentives which could be employed to encourage (U)LCVs by setting a good example and/or requiring associated organisations to use low emission vehicles. The policy levers that help to shape these incentives include the Localism Bill 2010-11 for providing reduced business rates and the CRTVR 2011 for internal and contracted council fleet vehicles. The survey results are shown in Figure 2.8.Figure 2.8: Other council measures to encourage (U)LCV use50454035302520151050Number of local authoritiesImplementedIn progressConsidered, but rejectedNot consideredUnsureReduced business rates for organisations with (U)LCV fleets(U)LCVs for council's own fleetProcurement procedures which require or encourage council contractors to use (U)LCVsOther council measures to encourage low carbon vehicle useReduced business rates for organisations with low carbon vehiclesLow carbon vehicles for council's own fleetProcurement procedures which require or encourage council contractors to use low carbon vehiclesSource: RAC Foundation