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Lib Dems to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040?

The Liberal Democrat party is to vote on a policy to ban all diesel and petrol cars from UK roads from 2040. Under the proposals, only electric vehicles and highly efficient hybrid passenger cars would be allowed but petrol and diesel trucks and other commercial vehicles would still be permitted.

The Liberal Democrat party is to vote on a policy to ban all diesel and petrol cars from UK roads from 2040. Under the proposals, only electric vehicles and highly efficient hybrid passenger cars would be allowed but petrol and diesel trucks and other commercial vehicles would still be permitted. The controversial plans are to be voted on by Lib Dem members at their upcoming conference in Glasgow and if successful the plan could become official party policy. The policy document for consideration states: "By 2040, only ultra-low carbon vehicles will be permitted on UK roads for non-freight purposes."

The party also wants to introduce road pricing in busy areas in a bid to beat congestion. The current coalition government has ruled out such a move before the election but have refused to rule it out thereafter. This leaves the door open for a stealthy move in this direction if they are voted back into power. Nick Clegg's Lib Dems also propose to replace air passenger duty with a per-plane tax that would be charged in proportion to the actual CO2 emissions caused by that journey. The set of proposals are part of a wider package that aims to create a zero carbon Britain.

These plans could also lead the party to support nuclear power and the controversial practice of 'fracking' for shale gas. Their position on fracking is that it should be permitted where "regulations controlling pollution and protecting local environmental quality are strictly enforced, planning decisions remain with local authorities and local communities are fully consulted over extraction and fully compensated for all damage to the local landscape." Fracking involves fracturing rock using high pressure water injected deep underground, which releases the valuable gas. In the US this has led to much lower domestic fuel bills.

The UK appears to be particularly rich in shale gas, with extensive fields in the northwest, Sussex and Surrey. Estimates for the amount of gas in the northwest have been reported as high as 500 trillion cubic feet. At current consumption levels, this would provide enough gas for the UK for more than 150 years. The practice of fracking has led to fears about causing minor earthquakes and poisoning water tables but Prime Minister David Cameron has already leant his support to the industry, despite concern from local communities in the affected areas. With so much gas seemingly available, the government may decide to focus attention on shale gas as a plentiful alternative fuel for our motor cars.
 

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