Move to E10 Fuel Presents Benefits but Union Calls for Lessons to be Learned from Filter Blocking Issues

NFU Scotland has welcomed the opportunities that switching to E10 petrol on forecourts could bring but consumers must be protected to ensure problems like those encountered in agricultural vehicles last winter are to be avoided.

The Union was responding to a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on the introduction of E10 petrol as the standard petrol grade across the UK by 2021. Today, the standard petrol grade in the UK contains up to 5 per cent ethanol, known as E5, and the proposed switch would see E10 fuel, which has up to 10 per cent ethanol and up to 90% regular unleaded petrol, become the standard grade.  It is estimated that the greener fuel could significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

In its submission, NFUS welcomed the benefits of the switch from E5 to E10 but also voiced its concerns about changes in fuels standards occurring without adequate specifications and testing in place to protect consumers.

It stressed that it is vital to apply lessons from the fuel filter blocking issue which impacted Scottish agriculture severely last winter. The Union said that consumers must not bear the costs of changes to fuel specifications. It believes it is essential that all fuel is fit for purpose, and the DfT, alongside industry, have a role to play in ensuring consumers are protected.

In addition, the Union voiced concerns about compatibility of the fuel with agricultural vehicles and equipment. Whilst the DfT estimate that 98 per cent of the roadgoing fleet will be compatible with E10 petrol, there is no information about how many off-road machines, farm vehicles or pieces of agricultural equipment may be impacted by the switch.

It stressed the off-road fleet and equipment must be fully considered, particularly as the length of ownership of such vehicles far exceeds that of the roadgoing fleet.

NFUS also reiterated concerns regarding the application of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation ‘crop cap’, which restricts the volume of crop-derived bioethanol in favour of bioethanol from waste and residues. The current cap is set at 4 per cent and will decrease to 2 per cent between 2020 and 2023. The preference for waste derived bioethanol fails to recognise the contribution that oilseed and crop-derived bioethanol production has in Scotland.  NFUS has previously provided evidence on this subject and will continue to engage with the Department to protect the interests of farmers and crofters.

Chair of NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical Committee, Tom French said: “The introduction of E10 petrol may offer potential market opportunities for some sectors of Scottish agriculture and there are significant environmental gains for the transport sector in switching from E5 to E10 petrol.

“All measures must be taken to ensure consumers are well informed of the change and what it means for their vehicle, machinery or equipment.

“It is essential that consumers do not bear any mechanical issues and costs associated with the switch. Problems such the filter blocking disaster that many farmers faced last year simply cannot be repeated.”   

Notes to editors

  • NFUS and NFU England & Wales are continuing to work with the Department for Transport and fuel industry on the fuel filter blocking issue that impacted many agricultural vehicles last autumn and winter. NFUS Transport Advisor, Jamie Smart, represents NFUS on the Filter Blocking Taskforce, who are tasked with reviewing the fuel specifications to ensure gasoil and diesel are fit for purpose and that future filter blocking issues are avoided.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 60/20

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