Authorities accused of shelving clean-fuel policy for light trucks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2003, 12:00am

Legislators have accused the government of abandoning its policy of promoting cleaner fuel for vehicles after a consultancy firm suggested that light trucks should not be required to switch to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

During yesterday's session on the environment, legislators criticised the government for being inconsistent in forcing taxis to switch to LPG while refusing to implement the same policy for light trucks.

They fear the policy has been abandoned under the mounting budget deficit problem.

The report, tabled yesterday and commissioned by the government's Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, suggested not extending the new fuel scheme to 68,000 light trucks because of a lack of infrastructure to provide LPG.

The study said it would take at least five years to complete new storage and refuelling facilities. But by then, new diesel-fuelled vehicles with emissions comparable to LPG emissions would be on the market.

Miriam Lau Kin-yee, a Liberal legislator representing the transport sector, said the government had changed its stance on the policy.

'When they promoted [the LPG-fuelled] taxi, they wanted it fast. But they retreated in promoting the LPG minibus, [which has] only been introduced on a voluntary [basis].

'Now, they say they are not going to do anything for light goods vehicles. This is in stark contrast to their pledges to clean up the air,' she said.

Thomas Chow Tat-ming, deputy permanent secretary for Environment, Transport and Works, denied the government had abandoned the policy.

'It is always our policy to promote cleaner fuel whenever it is feasible and this policy has never been changed.

'Our views on light goods vehicles have nothing to do with the budget deficit. In fact we have so far not talked to the financial bureau about them,' he said.