UK’s CLAS­SICS AT RISK AS MPs BACK ETHANOL

It’s been linked to dam­age and fires – but politi­cians want to add more to your fuel

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - FRONT PAGE - Jon Burgess

Politi­cians from Bri­tain’s big­gest par­ties are back­ing a cam­paign to in­crease the amount of ethanol in fuel sold at petrol sta­tions – de­spite the risk of it dam­ag­ing thou­sands of clas­sics.

The Be10per­cent­good cam­paign to have E10 fuel in­tro­duced ahead of the Gov­ern­ment’s aim of 2020 has picked up 499 sig­na­tures from del­e­gates and politi­cians at this year’s Labour and Con­ser­va­tive party con­fer­ences, with back­ers in­clud­ing the Shadow Trans­port Sec­re­tary, Andy Mc­Don­ald.

De­spite this nei­ther of the par­ties would com­mit to shield­ing clas­sics from the changes, with only the Lib­eral Democrats say­ing that they would sup­port a pro­tec­tion grade fuel with lower ethanol con­tent be­ing re­tained for users of older ve­hi­cles.

The Gov­ern­ment is cur­rently re­view­ing its own con­sul­ta­tion on in­creased ethanol in fuel.

‘Labour sup­ports the in­tro­duc­tion of E10 petrol to tackle cli­mate change’ ANDY Mc­DON­ALD, MP

Calls to save clas­sics from the neg­a­tive ef­fects of E10 petrol have not been ad­dressed by four of Bri­tain’s main po­lit­i­cal par­ties, Clas­sic Car Weekly can re­veal.

The Fed­er­a­tion of

Bri­tish His­toric Ve­hi­cle

Clubs (FBHVC) said that it wasn’t sur­prised at the lack of promi­nence given to clas­sics in the roll-out of E10, billed by its sup­port­ers like Be10per­cent­good as equiv­a­lent to tak­ing 700,000 cars off the road a year in terms of emis­sions.

The FBHVC went on to add that such clar­ity was pro­vided by the likes of the All Party Par­lia­men­tary His­toric Ve­hi­cle Group (APPHVG), and that chal­lenges like this to our hobby helped to jus­tify the ex­is­tence of the lat­ter group.

The FBHVC’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, Ge­off Lan­caster, said: ‘What’s vi­tally im­por­tant to our hobby isn’t that im­por­tant sta­tis­ti­cally when draw­ing up na­tional poli­cies; I’d be sur­prised if any party fac­tored the his­toric move­ment into their planned roll out of E10. Where par­ties lack clar­ity, those with a vested in­ter­est can bring the topic back up the agenda via the APPHVG.’

Clas­sic Car Weekly’s con­cerns with E10 – which harms clas­sic fuel sys­tems, rot­ting hoses and cor­rod­ing car­bu­ret­tor float bowls – grew af­ter the Depart­ment for Trans­port (DfT)’s con­sul­ta­tion into bioethanol fuel, its la­belling and in­clu­sion on fore­courts ended on 16 Septem­ber; while the FBHVC called for a ‘pro­tec­tion grade’ of less harm­ful fuel, known as E5 (or five per­cent ethanol con­tent) to be in­cluded at fill­ing sta­tions to pro­tect older cars, both it and the RAC Foun­da­tion dis­agreed as to what oc­tane rat­ing E5 should be. The FBHVC ar­gued for 9799 oc­tane,to pro­vide petro­chem­i­cal com­pa­nies with a fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive; but the RAC Foun­da­tion felt that 95 should be pro­tec­tion grade, so as to keep as many pre-2011 cars on the road as pos­si­ble.

Ge­off Lan­caster said: ‘E10 fuel will cer­tainly ap­peal to the pub­lic from a en­vi­ron­men­tal stand­point. If the his­toric ve­hi­cle move­ment is seen to re­sist it, we run the risk of our hobby be­ing seen as elit­ist and self­in­ter­ested. We don’t ac­cept that, of course – we have to de­fend our­selves on her­itage grounds and those of min­i­mal an­nual us­age [the Na­tional His­toric Ve­hi­cle Sur­vey 2016 found that his­toric ve­hi­cles cover an aver­age of 1124 miles a year], mean­ing a neg­li­gi­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.’

Bri­tain is obliged to roll E10 petrol out on fore­courts by 2020 for it to ful­fil the guide­lines of the Eu­ro­pean Union’s Fuel Qual­ity Direc­tive, which tasks mem­ber states with a six per cent re­duc­tion in green­house gases.

Lob­by­ists for Be10per­cent­good, a cam­paign tasked with get­ting E10 fuel on to the fore­courts be­fore 2020, at­tracted a con­sid­er­able num­ber of sig­na­tures from party del­e­gates and politi­cians at the re­cent Labour and Con­ser­va­tive party con­fer­ences; Labour’s ra­tio was 255-17, with the Con­ser­va­tives run­ning 216 del­e­gates and 11 politi­cians.

Clas­sic Car Weekly ap­proached the Labour, Con­ser­va­tive, Lib­eral Demo­crat and Green Par­ties for com­ment, but only Labour and the Lib Dems replied by our dead­line.

Labour con­firmed that party leader, Jeremy Cor­byn, had not signed the Be10per­cent­good pledge – but that Shadow Trans­port Sec­re­tary, Andy Mc­Don­ald, had. Mr Mc­Don­ald said: ‘Labour sup­ports the in­tro­duc­tion of E10 petrol and we have been call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to man­date the use of it for some time now in or­der to tackle cli­mate change.’ He didn’t, how­ever, clar­ify a spe­cific roll-out date or pro­tec­tion grade at the pumps for his­toric ve­hi­cles.

Labour’s pol­icy was later bol­stered by its APPHVG rep­re­sen­ta­tive and vice chair, Kelvin Hop­kins, who called for E5 on fore­courts. He said: ‘We need to make sure, at the very least, that there is a non- or low-ethanol fuel avail­able at ev­ery sta­tion for mod­ern clas­sics as well as older ones.’

His sen­ti­ments were shared by the Lib­eral Democrats’ po­lit­i­cal ad­viser on the en­vi­ron­ment, Ed­ward Molyneux. He said : ‘Given the im­pact this could have on many cars that are not ca­pa­ble of tak­ing E10, par­tic­u­larly clas­sics, we sup­port the op­tion of a pro­tec­tion grade sug­gested in the DfT’s con­sul­ta­tion. Fuel sta­tions over a cer­tain size should be re­quired to stock stan­dard E5 petrol to en­sure this change does not in­ad­ver­tently force mil­lions of cars off the road.’

With the out­come of E10 at the pumps still un­de­cided, Ge­off Lan­caster said that there were fur­ther fac­tors at play: ‘Fuel sup­pli­ers could bring E10 in to­mor­row if they wanted, but there has to be a rea­son for them to do it be­fore EU obli­ga­tions make them do it. Their mar­gins are small be­cause of tax­a­tion any­way. Clearly, there’s still some work to do.’

More po­lit­i­cal par­ties would take a spe­cific in­ter­est in E10 fuel and clas­sics if more of them were on the road, said the FBHVC.

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