Freight and personal vehicles fuel local oil consumption rise

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Freight and personal vehicles are fuelling an increase in oil consumption on our local roads, new data reveals.

New Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show that road transport in West Lothian consumed 124,478 tonnes of oil in 2017 – six per cent more than five years earlier. Commercial transport accounted for 36 per cent of oil consumption in the area. West Lothian demand for petrol and diesel rose 15 per cent to 44,751 tonnes in 2017.

Personal transport, such as buses, cars or motorbikes, still amounted to the biggest proportion of the oil used, though it required one per cent more tonnes of fuel compared to 2012.

While, figures show that road transport in Falkirk consumed 117,463 tonnes of oil in 2017 – seven per cent more than five years earlier. Commercial transport accounted for 36 per cent of oil consumption in the Falkirk area. Its demand for petrol and diesel rose 16 per cent to 42,259 tonnes in 2017.

Poor air quality is the “biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK” and is thought to be linked to about 40,000 premature deaths a year, according to a government report.

To tackle the issue, the Government has set 2040 as a deadline for banning the sale of diesel and petrol cars, making all new vehicles effectively net zero emission. Environmental campaign groups have called on the Government to move the deadline banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward a decade to 2030.

Areeba Hamid, climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Road transport has been a particularly disappointing sector in terms of de-carbonisation.

“Despite the climate emergency, and impressive advances in electric vehicle technology, car manufacturers are still putting more effort into designing, building and promoting petrol and diesel vehicles, particularly the heavier, dirtier 4x4 models with bigger profit margins.

“Meanwhile the UK government has set a 2040 date for phasing these vehicles out, 10 to 15 years later than the governments showing real leadership on this issue.

“It’s this sort of short-sightedness that will be a severe handicap to our economy in the medium term, as we are forced to make more extreme and more expensive changes to compensate for the mistakes we’re making now.”

While air pollution has been mostly falling, nitrogen oxides – which form part of the discharge from car exhausts - regularly breach safe levels in many cities. Nationally, diesel vehicles produce the overwhelming majority of nitrogen oxide gases coming from roadside sources.

Diesel vehicles accounted for 71 per cent of the oil consumed by transport in West Lothian in 2017 – requiring 17 per cent more fuel than five years earlier.

Across the UK, road transport consumed nearly 38 million tonnes of oil in 2017, two per cent more than in 2012. Freight transport accounted for a third of the gasoline and diesel used on roads, but its demand increased by 14 per cent. However, the amount of oil used by personal transport fell by three per cent.

Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth said: “Freight companies that shift goods around the UK need to play their part in addressing the climate emergency. This means switching to electric and hydrogen, and away from oil.

“While these technologies are less advanced for trucks than for cars the technology is developing fast.”