EU SHOULD BLOCK UK U-TURN ON BIODIESEL, SAYS MEP
UK ‘TESTING’ EU LAW IN TAXING VEGETABLE OIL USED AS CAR FUEL
THE UK could be breaking EU law by taxing vegetable oil sold as car fuel,
according to Green MEP Caroline Lucas.
A 2003 EU Directive requires all EU members to promote the use of biodiesel
and other fuels from renewable sources as alternatives to petrol. The
government, stating that reducing fuel duty was its primary means of
promoting biofuels, exempted vegetable oil from 20p a litre tax to encourage
But customs officials have reclassified some vegetable oils as ‘fuel
substitutes’ rather than ‘biodiesel’, and re-imposed the tax and demanded a
full rebate from the EU of all tax it has forgone during the last three
Dr Lucas, who represents the South-East and is a member of the European
Parliament’s influential Environment Committee, said the UK government’s
stance revealed the widening gap between its rhetoric and action on tackling
“In public, the government has said it supports greater use of renewable
alternatives to petrol – but its taxation policies show the exact opposite
is in fact the case,” she said.
“Tony Blair has repeatedly told us that tackling climate change is his
biggest priority, but his government doesn’t seem to be taking the same
“It’s really very simple: the UK must do everything it can to encourage a
reduction in demand for fossil fuels, and stop trying to cover up its
failures by picking fights with the EU over how to implement the very laws
which are designed to help it do so.”
Environmental campaigners have in the past called for restrictions on
importing biodiesel produced from oil farm plantations at the expense of
rainforest – but EU-grown rapeseed oil does not do this.
Dr Lucas has submitted a parliamentary written question asking the EU to
clarify the status of vegetable-based bio-diesel and rule on the legality of
the UK’s tax regime accordingly.