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The UK’s Liberal Democrats Party, led by Nick Clegg, is proposing to ban petrol and diesel-powered passenger cars on English roads by 2040, allowing only electric and hybrid vehicles to be used.

According to UK reports, the proposal would see the exclusive use of EVs and hybrids on UK arterials with the only exception to the petrol and diesel ban being for freight vehicles.

“By 2040, only ultra low-carbon vehicles will be permitted on UK roads for non-freight purposes,” the document policy is quoted as saying.

“If technology permitted, we would bring forward this date.”

Nissan Leaf

The proposed changes for UK roads – part of the party’s “zero carbon Britain” plan – join plans to introduce a system of road pricing in congested areas, replace air passenger duty with a “per-plane duty, charged in proportion to the carbon emissions created by that journey”, and embracing nuclear power and shale gas exploration.

The road pricing scheme would see the abolishment of the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and require motorists to pay a fee for each journey they make. Rates would be calculated by distance and times travelled, vehicle emissions produced and whether a motorist resides in an urban or rural area.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Automobile Association (AA) told one publication the plans to ban petrol and diesel cars were premature and should only be made when the uptake of ultra low- or zero-CO2 vehicles shows signs of significant growth.

“Setting a date now in the absence of hard data about what the implications would be is risky,” the spokesperson said.

“We believe hybrids and ELVs will increase in numbers but not to the point where they will be dominant by 2040.

“If this policy reaches fruition too early it will consign many perfectly good and clean cars by today’s standard to an early grave and that would be wrong.”

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell

The proposal is to be voted on by members of the party at the Liberal Democrats autumn conference in Glasgow on September 14-18.

At the 2010 elections, the Liberal Democrats joined a coalition government with the Conservative Party, with Clegg becoming Deputy Prime Minister alongside Prime Minister David Cameron.

  • Peanut

    What a great idea.
    Nobody will notice the pollution coming out of the electricity plants trying to recharge all these cars.
    Pollution is only caused by cars not electricity plants.

    • wildman

      so we do nothing and end up with only the rich been able to fuel their cars in 27 years time. The ‘proposal’ as far as I’m aware is meant to start a debate as to how we tackle a growing issue’

      On pollution from power plants yes that could be an issue if we continue to build fossil fuel stations and not use renewable s . But again thats party policy to try and push green energy production , including producing your own at home instead of relying on the power companies. Solar, wind, ground source etc.

    • Sydlocal

      Did you miss the bit about embracing Nuclear power? I full agree with what you are getting at though. A lot of the great unwashed don’t seem to comprehend that…

      • Cars

        Yes isn’t it brilliant? Base load generation with low emissions. When people wake up and learn that radiation is a natural part of life and that the power stations are low risk the uneducated will stop their fear campaigns. In fact a coal fired powerstation has more radioactive particles emitted than a nuclear plant. A fact which is the consequence of radioactive particles being found in coal. You burn coal you distribute all manner of nasties out of the smoke stack.

        • marc

          ..oh yeah, so why has Japan begun dismantling their nuclear power stations… all of them.

          • Cars

            Because they are a nation on a faultline. Australia and the UK have no such problems. The UK has been using nuclear power safely for over 40 years!

          • marc

            was that the reason? I think you need to read more about nuclear

          • matt

            i think you do marc, pebble bed reactors are far less “dangerous” then the current type, the US gave up on them years ago because they couldn’t make nukes out of the waste, the chinese and Indians are exploring them again, molten salt solar is also looking promising, one is about to be put online in the US, with the capacity of a general sized coal fired power station (a small experimental one is in south Australia too), what annoys me is there is promising technology everywhere, but no will in this nation to explore these technologies. Also brazil has launched an ethanol powered plane (for the plane argument below, again, the tech is there, but no will grrrr

          • Max

            There is more then enough people wanting to do it. What stops everything is the coal lobby. Massive money is involved therefore nuclear is an undesirable thing. In Australia we have backward and neo-conservative policies to appease big business. And don’t hold hopes for nuclear if Liberals are in power.

          • Cars


            The John Howard-led Coalition government went to the November 2007 federal election with a pro-nuclear power platform.

          • Cars

            It was Kevin Rudd that said: ”If you
            elect a Labor government, there will be no nuclear reactors in Australia, full

          • $29896495

            The issue with nukes is the location and cost. But short sighted pollies pull this up. With have a country with nothing in the middle of it where they dropped a bombs. Stick a couple out there and they can feed to whole country with electricity. The one issue is water for cooling. Solve that and all you have to worry about is having them blow up once in a while. By the same token, if they do, they are in the middles of no where. So who cares.

          • Hung Low

            You will need a pretty long extension cord to get all that generated power to the capital cities won’t you.

          • $29896495

            And the issue is? Bunnings and mitre 10 will do well out it wont they?

    • Cars

      The most pressing problem ISN’T pollution. It is the fact we are running out of oil.
      If you are quick you can still see on ABC’s Iview the documentary “10 bucks a litre”.
      The move to an Electric Vehicle nation is a good one but it would be far better to increase oil taxes and use the funds to subsidise renewable energy. That way you would slow the consumption of oil, drive more people towards buying EVs and generate a lot more renewable energy. Reducing oil burning of course would also mean less CO2 and other emissions.

      • marc

        Unfortunately, in this country, raising (petrol) taxes just contributes to more middle class welfare.

        • $29896495

          OK south America has been running on ethanol for years. Really if the internal combustion engine is further developed we grow plenty of cane and wheat i this country, with suitable engines we can power ourselves. As well as LPG and electric. Oil doesn’t have to be made from fossil fuel.

          • kwetuyk

            The land is drying up here and the amount of fertile land where it can be grown is dwindling. So is a consistant supply of irrigation.

            The same will happen in South America if they don’t stop logging the rainforests and letting the ground dry up.

          • Hung Low

            The ethanol crops will drive food cost up and production down. The poor yield to land ratio of ethanol crops will result in using it quicker than it could be produced if it ever ended up as a main source of fuel. Lets not forget ethanol is fuel not oil, it cannot replace oil, just petroleum.

          • Sydlocal

            Not to mention the extremely high amount of water and power required for ethanol production.

          • Karl Sass

            Ethanol can be made from sources other than crops, most of the E85 made in Australia comes from agricultural waste. It’s cleaner, renewable and has a much higher octane rating than petrol.

          • $29896495


          • Hung Low

            The E85 market here is tiny so the current solution is suitable. On a mass scale, ethanol can no longer be a by product to keep up with demand. Genetically modified crops that give a bigger yield, algae etc will require the same resources as food crops. We in Australia are fortunate because of our vast cane industry so we have a better chance to almost be self sufficient. But on a global scale, if all vehicles were to run on ethanol, I do not think that global production would meet global demand.

  • Wildman

    2040-2013= 27 years…….what with the ever increasing price of fuel and the possible future supply not to mention climate issues , can I suggest that this might be a sensible policy to be looking towards.

    • Cars

      Better to increase oil taxes and put the money into renewable subsidies. Its a win-win.

      • marc

        Just one..thats right just one 747 flight to Europe burns enough fuel to cover 4000 cars for a week or two. Car usage is insignificant compared to aviation and shipping.

        • jw

          Yea, we all use 747s for travel as often as we use our cars don’t we?

          • marc

            why pick on car users.

          • aghqgh

            The same reason they’re picking on plane users with a “plane duty”.

            Your example of a 747 is nonsense anyway. Apart from the fact that the average person rarely does a trip to Europe, the method of travel is far more efficient.

            A typical 747 flight to Europe with a 80% load factor (350 passengers + freight) burns about 210,000 litres of fuel over 16,000kms.

            Per person, per 100kms its under 4L100km.

            With most car journeys being done with only the driver on board, the average consumption per person would be something like 8L100km. Add to this the fact that the average person does far more kms by car than they do by plane and your claim that car usage is insignificant compared to aviation is nonsense.

          • marc

            The fact remains a long trip uses 220,000 litres per flight. The economy factor is irrelevant. In one week Sydney Airport uses more fuel than the whole Aus car park in a year.

          • jetyj

            No it doesn’t. Lets see your calculations so we can understand where you messed up your figures about Sydney Airport.

            The fact remains that they’re planning a “plane duty” anyway. did you even read this article? Or are distracted by the radio set on Alan Jones?

        • Tom

          Yes, which is why there is a tremendous amount of research being done into fueling planes with biofuels and other alternative power sources. Fuel is already the biggest cost for airlines by some margin, and the price is only going to go up. It isn’t a matter of your beliefs regarding climate change or environmental conservation, it is pure business sense – fossil fuels will become unaffordable in the foreseeable future, hence, it makes sense to explore alternatives. I would suggest that this legislation proposed by the Lib Dems will be largely unnecessary, as the price of oil will likely make petrol and diesel too expensive for most by 2040 regardless.

    • $29896495

      There are plenty of alternatives to banning the internal combustion engine. Fuel doesn’t have to be made from oil. Other types of fuel don’t have the particulate matter. that diesel does. The problem with ideas like these people have, is they stop looking at alternatives. It’s either or, and that’s not necessary for Australia.

      Higher taxes on oil is just plain insane. So raise the cost of living higher. Send the country down the gurgler so we want have to worry about pollution. What UK wants to do is their business. Their policies do not suit this country.

      • Cars

        Did the carbon tax send our economy down the drain?
        If something is bad for then environment and you want to encourage people away from it’s use, taxes are effective. You also need to give them a viable alternative. That is the challenge but irrespective, when fuel does cost 10 bucks a litre suddenly all the other fuel types will make far more sense.

        • Sydlocal

          Yep, taxes were effective with the ‘alcopop’ tax… 😉

        • $29896495

          Carbon tax did nothing. There was more fear talk than actual effect. The idea is to find a solution not create another imaginary problem.

    • Tracy

      No. It will put an end to Classic Car Shows and have a host of other knock on effects, for businesses too. 27 years is NOT a long time. Do they expect every business to replace all their vehicles for electric cars in that time when electric cars have not yet been perfected and there are not enough charging points.

      I will be voting against this.

  • big jim

    Climate change is a load of B S – long live petroleum distillate!

    • Cars

      So where will the cheap petroleum come from einstein? Once you burn it all then that’s it. Gone. Forever. I hope you have a good place to keep your internal combustion engine vehicle in 20 years when you cannot afford to fuel it!

      • Dan

        Sugar cane sourced ethanol hybid sports cars. Which are efficient, versatile, sporty and environmentally friendly.
        The future is already here. For instance; LaFerrari, P1, 918 spyder, just to name a few.

        • MK

          Yeah good one, do you have a trillion acres of sugar cane to support the worlds requirements for Ethanol when oil runs scarce? Ethanol is just a band-aid fix for the larger issue.

          • Dan


      • marc

        Do the research ..theres a lot of fuel on this planet at the right price. Even at $5/l its cheaper than Evian. You’ve been sucked in by all this propaganda BS you read in general media stirred by people with agendas to source money. Turkeys like Al Gore, a major hypocrit, stands to benefit financially.

        • lri

          Marc, you have it the wrong way around.

          People trying to create awareness about climate change don’t make much, if any money from doing so. How would they? Do people stop every week and “fill up” on $50 of climate change awareness?

          But there sure is a lot of money being made from selling fossil fuels. Billions of dollars are made from selling oil all the time. you can be sure those oil barons don’t want to lose their profits. They’re the ones spinning the propaganda and trying to oppose environmental reforms.

          • marc

            There are plenty of industries making money, including govt wastful spending on schemes that deliver zero world impact. One good volcano blast delivers more co2 than Australia emits in a year. Do the research and do the numbers.

          • kruy

            Name some companies making huge amounts of money off green programs?

            Then compare them to Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Mobile, British Petroleum, BHP etc.
            Then tell us who’s making money.

        • Tom

          You don’t think that people just might reconsider how much they use their cars when it costs $300 to fill a 60 litre tank?

      • marc

        …I wish someone would burn you.

        • Cars

          Thats it – hate and bury your head in the sand. There are gonna be a lot of people doing it really tough and people with an attitude like yours will make up most of them. The research has been done. Shame you choose to ignore it. Oh well you can’t help everyone.

          • marc

            This is a car site, your comments belong somewhere else.

          • Cars

            “…I wish someone would burn you.”

            This is a car site, your comments belong somewhere else.

    • marc

      Long live the V8!

    • Yetiman

      Maybe but air pollution is real. I wouldn’t like to see our cities becoming congested like Beijing.

      • Barry

        big jim quite possibly has never been to Beijing, much less been outside Mt Druitt/Deer Park/Loganholme

  • davie

    OK, so it’s easy to sneer at this proposal as ridiculous. I certainly don’t think it’s realistic, the few electric/hydrogen alternatives to fossil fuels are not really mainstream yet, and it would potentially make the UK a prohibitive place to do business.

    However, the other side of the coin, is that the big stick approach does encourage innovation. The EU rules from the 90’s made cars over 1.4 litres capacity more expensive to operate. It has certainly provoked a wave of innovation in fuel saving euro engine technology.

    • F1orce

      That’s no issue, because the UK right now is as significant as a grain of salt.

      • Cars

        One of the biggest financial hubs in the world, the sixth-largest economy in the world is as significant as a grain of salt? Why post before you think?

        • $29896495

          To us yes that’s about right. UK wield a big stick in Europe, but for the rest of the world. No.

  • Don Quay

    Fred Flintstone’s car had a zero pollution propulsion system. It worked back then, why not again?

    • Sydlocal

      Their aviation industry was quite efficient too!

  • cep32101

    “If technology permitted, we would bring forward this date.” Yes, but it doesn’t. If there was money to be made someone would have done it. Leave it to a liberal to set a date, then HOPE someone can make it.

  • Cars

    If you go to ABC iView you can watch the documentary “10 bucks a litre”.
    People better plan for life without cheap petroleum products!

    • Cars

      LOL the D*** Smith word was moderated……..

    • marc

      Go to Tasmania.. you’ll fit in there. Recession, no jobs, no hope. Great future.

      • Cars

        My word you are blind. If we dont make changes to a sustainable future then its not a case of “great future”, it’s no future!

        • marc

          Go join a political website. For a person called ‘cars’ you sure have a problem in here.

          • Cars

            So “cars” means 4 wheels ,a steering wheel and a fully sick V8 – yeah?

            The good news is there are people that give a damn about our future beyond the oil economy. People that think beyond the next dole cheque. I can see you are having some troubles with that.

  • Jacob


    I knew some stupid political party would come up with another ban on something we use every day.

    What will happen to Ferraris and Lamborghinis? Classic Cars?

    Glorious machines need petrol. Live and let live.

    • jwy

      Who uses Ferraris/Lamborginis/Classic Cars every day?

      The average person does not drive these cars at all, let alone very day.

      The usage of those cars would not change. They’d still spend their lives parked in a garage.

    • Cars

      So yours will be put in cotton wool? Give me a break…..
      I’m sure Jay Leno will be ok.

    • LC

      From the look of it, and from the opinions of a few other posters, the Liberal Democrats are the UK’s equivalent of the Greens: Just a minority party, with a dwindling support base, making as much noise as they can to appease their rusted-ons, while alienating regular everyday voters who they need to be in any real position of power.

      I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • JHP

    Tonight on top gear, Jeremy Clarkson rants about UK liberal democrats

  • Phil

    Pointless grandstanding. It’s happening now without their input. Tougher emission laws and fuel targets are achieving the transition, now. Hybrids and full electrics on sale now, with some carmakers suggesting they will have fuel cell electric cars on sale in 2015. By 2040, internal combustion cars will probably be a historical curiosity. One can only wish the Liberal Democrats follow suit, if they continue proposing to legislate the inevitable.

    • Cars

      Well said.

  • Golf

    Cars? What about buses, trucks, vans, motorbikes?

  • MarksmanR

    Electric motors is the future – yes, BUT powered by liquid hydrogen fuel cells that can be refilled in a few minutes just like refilling petrol cars. Conventional lithium ion batteries is NOT the future for cars as recharging takes way too long.

    • Cars

      There is always new technology being developed. I’m sure the holy grail of battery charging will be solved before too long. It’s worth a fortune to the company that does it.

      • LC

        There is always new technology being developed. The basics for hydrogen powered cars is all there (Hyundai have an example on sale to countries with the infrastructure), and the true holy grail of hydrogen powered cars is well on it’s way. It’s worth a fortune to the company(ies) that do it.

    • jwrtyj

      So where are your solutions to the problems with Hydrogen Fuel cells?

      Tesla’s “Superchargers” are already down to about 40 minutes for 300km range top up.

      I only drive about 50km a day and then the car sits in a garage next to a power point for 15 hours overnight, so have plenty of time for charging.

      • LC

        Hyundai have clearly already have solved these issues, they have hydrogen-powered ix35s available to countries with the infrastructure, and they’re built under the same roof as the petrol/diesel ones. And it has the exact same range as the petrol-powered one straight off the bat. Sure, electric car range will improve, but the range of hydrogen ones will too, and if they’re already ahead on practically day 1…

  • F1orce

    Renewable energy? Please get real. I’d like to see how long it takes to charge your EV with solar panels..

    • Cars

      Don’t forget that there is a lot of money spent in R&D to improve solar cell efficiency. We are still in early days.

  • chris_xxxx

    Ignore the Lib Dems. They are a joke in the UK and are the minor party in the coalition government. They are way behind in the polls and unlikely to remain in power.

    To summarise, they’re a bunch of eco loons who believe wind farms and solar panels will help to power the UK.

    • Phil

      wind and solar do help power the UK. In fact they’ve just added a 500MW offshore wind farm, which will be doubled in size to 1GW down the track. There’s nothing loony about using a free source of energy.

  • shumayal

    The GREAT Global Warming SWINDLE -.-

    • Cars

      Whether you believe in global warming or not is irrelevant. We will have a global energy crisis coming within the next 20 years if we don’t start transitioning to other, non-oil sources. We simply cannot continue to live the way we do with such a heavy dependency on oil products. As some have mentioned, LPG and biofuels will help but they are only part of the solution.

      • Hung Low

        Has to be CNG instead of LPG which still requires petroleum. There is still oil out there in vast reserves such as Bosnia, but we should free our dependency on just one sole energy source and look at alternatives.

        • Cars

          Out of curiosity – did you look at the documentary on the iView site?

    • $29896495

      Lets accept there’s global warming and move on from there. If everyone calms down and thinks rationally,we’ll get to the solutions. Alternative fuels (bio fro example) don’t have the pollution of fossils. It still means you can use normal cars, all be it with modified engines.

      • Barry

        Biofuel is absolutely part of the solution but absolutely impossible to have all vehicles on biofuels. All common and commerical biofuels compete directly with agricultural land for food produce. Perhaps if we only had a billion people it would work but we have 7 billion mouths to feed and growing the population continues to grow rapidly.

        • $29896495

          The world isn’t fed by one country. It’s short sighted and negative thinking. We do it and Sth America does it. Bio fuel isn’t only made from cane. The bottom line is a combo of strategies moving forward. With engines that can handle it eventually all the old ones will be gone. Countries like UK etc can import from us and others as well as running fuel cell etc. It’s not just one thing. This is the new industrial revolution – not just one thing like coal or shale or oil will do it.

          • Cars

            South America is a continent….
            In 2011 The 2 biggest producers of bioethanol were Brasil and The USA whom together accounted for 87.1% of world production. Australia by comparison came in at number 9 with 0.39% of world production (not even close to 1%!!!). The only other South American country in the top ten producers was Colombia at number 8. The EU produced 1,199 Million US gallons of Ethanol compared to our 87. I don’t think the UK will be importing Ethanol from Australia.

            In the current corn-to-ethanol production model in the United States, considering the total energy consumed by farm equipment, cultivation, planting, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides made from petroleum, irrigation systems, harvesting, transport of feedstock to processing plants, fermentation, distillation, drying, transport to fuel terminals and retail pumps, and lower ethanol fuel energy content, the net energy content value added and delivered to consumers is very small.
            Source – wiki
            There is much research being conducted to improve efficiency and also using various feedstocks. Hopefully this will net some real gains. This will be ever more important as global food production will need to increase and ethanol production has already proven to increase sugar and corn prices in the markets where they compete. Given all these limitations, no one in the renewable debate is suggesting this is a major player in solving global energy production problems. So you are correct in saying that Ethanol is but one tool among many that needs to play it’s part in a constantly shifting energy economy.

      • Karl Sass

        Well put.

  • F1orce

    But this is why hyundai is selling fuel cells. They oversee the future..

    • keu

      Selling them? Oh, where can I buy them?

      • LC

        You can only buy them in countries that have the infrastructure.

        In the Netherlands and Iceland, they are already on sale. In the UK, they are available to fleets, and they’re planning on opening them up to private buyers within the next 2 years.

    • Barry

      Oversee the future – that’s awesome. I want them to tell me the next lotto numbers! Yeah and where can I buy one and where can I get it’s tank filled?

  • Vins

    I think it’s a good start. If we wait for the manufacturer to take on, it will only happen when the fuel price is $20 a litre. We keep saying this kind policy does not solve the problem because of electricity is coming from coal power. But if we don’t force this kind of changes, then nobody will look into the coal power electricity issue seriously and every freaking greener will still point the finger at cars (which are over represented in environmental pollution).

  • lo-90

    Unless Cameron tells them not to !

  • Yiannis Danatzis

    Trust the British to come up with a law like this. How are they going to make the Royal family replace all their Rolls Royces with hybrids? They will never agree to such thing

  • Tracy

    I shall be voting against this!

    This would put an end to Classic Car and Bike Shows for a start!

  • LC

    Did they consider the impact on enthusiasts and classic-car owners here?

    There’s going to be a real fight if they try to implement this.

  • RSV4

    Power plants are a lot more efficient than cars which means less pollution. The problem is that it is more environmentally friendly to drive cars already made than to buy a new car. The pollution in creating a new car is a lot worse than driving one you already own. I don’t think any politicians take this into account. I feel like all western nations just want to ban everything especially the U.K. and the U.S.A. Governments like these have way too much power.