In­no­va­tive firm gets the chance to make its mark

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY - Ch­eryl Gil­lan MP for Che­sham & Amer­sham

THE Chan­cel­lor’s Bud­get speech lasted for more than an hour. It was ac­com­pa­nied by masses of fur­ther ma­te­rial – hun­dreds of pages – which set out all the pro­pos­als in de­tail.

In among all those pages of de­tail was one which is of great sig­nif­i­cance to a com­pany based in Chal­font St Giles, Zero-m Ltd, which has been work­ing since 2001 on de­vel­op­ing an al­ter­na­tive fuel – aqua methanol.

It is a diesel sub­sti­tute fuel, so it could re­duce the air pol­lu­tion and health risks as­so­ci­ated with con­ven­tional diesel.

Back in 2001, Peter Dodd, my con­stituent, ac­com­pa­nied a se­nior civil ser­vant from the Depart­ment for Trans­port on a jour­ney in a Lon­don black cab.

It was no or­di­nary cab be­cause it was con­verted to run on aqua methanol and it emit­ted vir­tu­ally no poi­sonous par­tic­u­lates or ni­tro­gen ox­ides.

Us­ing the fuel could make a big dif­fer­ence to street-level air pol­lu­tion and to air qual­ity in the UK. The com­pany has been work­ing on the pos­si­bil­i­ties of in­tro­duc­ing vans and heavy goods ve­hi­cles which can use aqua methanol.

The prob­lem was that diesel fuel and new al­ter­na­tive fu­els are taxed on a dif­fer­ent ba­sis. The chance to change this to a more eq­ui­table level was lost just a few weeks ago, af­ter the Bud­get, when the op­po­si­tion de­cided to re­move its back­ing for a new duty level.

Shortly be­fore the Bud­get, I had the chance to high­light this to the House of Com­mons in an ad­journ­ment de­bate, and the re­sponse of min­is­ters at the time was favourable.

The notes ac­com­pa­ny­ing the Bud­get on July 8 said: “The gov­ern­ment will leg­is­late to ap­ply a re­duced rate of fuel duty to aqua methanol in Fi­nance Bill 2016.”

That will, I hope, see a change to the duty lev­els from March next year.

It is great news and, since then, I’ve had con­fir­ma­tion that this lo­cally-based com­pany will be able to go ahead with com­mer­cial tri­als for goods ve­hi­cles. This is just the kind of in­no­va­tion and en­ter­prise that we need and I’m glad a Buck­ing­hamshire com­pany is tack­ling this chal­lenge with such vigour.

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