The cost of fuel is soaring
Thank you for sending us your comments on Panorama: Can We Afford to Fill Up?
The debate is now closed but a selection of your views are published below.
Panorama: Can We Afford to Fill Up? was shown on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 28 July 2008.
As a self employed courier I now find that I cannot earn enough living to cover my bills for my job. I have lost 20% off my income due to the rise in the cost of fuel. I am happy to cut back on my personal fuel consumption but I thing the government have let down the hauliers and couriers etc who need fuel to make a living. I think they should make some concessions for them immediately before we all go bust. Eugenio Fernandez Huelamo
I was amazed at the angle taken in the report on the cost of fuel. Currently the government influence the cost of fuels very significantly with fuel duty and VAT and approximately 70% of the cost of fuel is tax. The concept of switching to electric cars is also ridiculous. The national grid currently struggles to cope with the demands of industry and domestic supplies so loading the grid with electric cars is not the answer, unless we want power cuts in our homes and offices? The problem we face is security of fuel supply, the fact is we are consuming the worlds supplies of oil and gas and this needs to be addressed on a cultural level. We need to rely on automotive and road transport much less. Where we live, work and the need to reduce the dependence on the car is critical, we need to look more to walking, cycling and public transport to conserve fuel.
I am watching tonight's programme and am incensed by the man from Kings College London telling people to use public transport! Its okay for him living and working in London, try the expensive and elusive suburbs of Bristol and to be honest in the city itself! Get out and see what its like out of the capital then tell me not to use my car!
I've already written to Downing Street (I'm not a letter writer) but as a single mother who works, lives in a tiny country village and NEEDS a car to be able to do so, i have been enraged by the fuel price rises. I am being forced off the road because of this. the government have said to use public transport, cycle or walk but none of these are possible for thousands of people in my position. Don't they realise that if i cant afford my car i wont be able to work and they will be paying very much more out in benefits to me. I don't want to stop working but how can i work and run my car? I said all this in my letter. I just got a blanket reply with a wad of papers that tell me the governments policy on fuel.....THAT DOESN'T MEAN A THING TO ME!!!!!
We watched with interest your programme on Monday 28th July, and must confess it was the first time we had watched Panorama, we were glad we did especially as the rise in fuel costs and car tax is a subject being discussed by almost everyone we become engaged in a conversation with. We are pensioners, not on a large income and our holidays are spent and very much enjoyed in our caravan as many of the older generation do. With the increase in fuel and car tax it will limit us to our hobby/ enjoyment and we feel this is yet again causing more financial problems for a lot of the older people of this country. It is as stated in the programme also causing problems for the younger people with families. Why is it that in great Britain you work all of your lives, or most of it and then get penalised when trying to enjoy your retirement. Caravanning is only one of our hobbies, we enjoy walking and bird-watching in our beautiful countryside, which we love to do whilst away in our caravan, so it will be three hobbies that we cannot do as much.
I believe a great number of road users would be in favour of all these green taxes if the money went into a environmentally friendly pool instead of being used to offset Mr Brown's financial black hole.
Malcolm J. Gay
Thank you for this programme - I have recently changed to a smaller car and have been making a conscious effort to drive less. The tips on getting the most mileage per tank were very helpful!
The government keeps harping on about how we should be all fuel conscious, and cut our CO2 emissions but it doesn't reward people who car share. Myself and 4 other people travel from Dundee to the south of Aberdeen, (Porthlethen)which is 62 miles each way. Rather than take 4 different cars which would be ludicrous, we share, cutting CO2 emissions by a huge amount over the period of 1 year, yet although the government are supposedly introducing various ideas to entice people off the roads there are no incentives for people who car share and have to travel great distances to work by road, of which there are many. Train travel is out of the question because of the Logistics and cost eg. parking at stations.
Excellent program, one of the best so far this year. Another that will be well worth while showing my students (Yr12/13 Secondary School business studies). Personally, I do not understand why the gentleman living in Richmond is so celebrated. Why doesn't he save himself even more money and just use public transport to commute? We all need to spend more time listening to the Professor.
So far the cost of fuel has had only an indirect impact upon us - and very limited at that. We buy diesel about once every six to seven weeks because we do not drive to the shops and have three car free days a week. Solar power provides our hot water. We grow some of our food in our garden. We do not expect to avoid the effects of the present economic climate but we do understand that we can do more to economise without pain for the time being. We are all experiencing a resource shortage and this is likely to get worse rather than better. It might be unavoidable and permanent. It will be a case of differentiating between 'wants' and 'needs'.
I am a new mum who would like to stay at home with my daughter for the first few years, we have two cars as we live in the country, and my partner needs to get to work and if we didn't have a second car I would be stuck in case of an emergency having just changed from a 1.8 to a 1.3 to help on costs is still does not seem to help as I said being a new mum I really do not want to miss out on the first years of my daughters growth but may have to go back to work. We are all for helping change to save the planet but at the end of the day it comes down to cost, if we were given electric cars in part exchange for ours we would be happy to change.
I watched your programme on "Can we afford to fill up?" and was most impressed with the electric car. It is quite a shame that more local authorities have not established public charging points. Britain is doing the right thing by going green and more people should buy the green car for inner city runs but first we have to get the public charging points. I really enjoyed how the directors of the show did their research and was able to get the presenter to drive around that green car (colour blue) and the back ground music was fabulous. Wonderful show and keep up the good work. It is shows like these that make the BBC a great media network.
It worries me that such a high percentage of people are not interested in alternative fuels. If we continue to have such a lack of forward thinking about world's resources then our children, and children's children are going to wonder why we are such a selfish and foolish generation.
I saw all this coming; 18 months ago, I adapted my 1995 diesel car to run on vegetable oil. I run it mostly on used vegetable oil, which I collect for free and filter myself. This is all 100% legal and there's no fuel tax to pay as long as you use less than 2,500 litres per year. I recently did a 600 mile round trip to London and it cost me £0 - a very nice feeling, let me tell you! I can also run it on fresh vegetable oil from cash and carrys and supermarkets, although at around £1 per litre, this isn't much cheaper than diesel. The car has done around 27,000 miles on the veg, and it's running just great; in fact I dare say it runs better on veg than diesel: very smooth, better mpg (I tried sunflower oil last winter and was getting around 70mpg compared with 55mpg with diesel....) and the emissions are cleaner, proven by the MOT smoke test. Most people will just whinge and moan about high fuel prices, but pay up and do not do anything. I, on the other hand, was prepared to do something and now I'm reaping the benefits...
Nice programme and some valid points raised, however your programme like many others covers mostly domestic usage of motor cars. It does not really raise the points about what about the guys like me who are small businesses as in I am a self employed electrician. I need my van to carry my tools and electrical equipment between jobs any more taxes lumped on me and I will go out of business and if you think that is not a problem and so what, try picking up a phone and getting an electrician to come out to you when you have a problem. The fact is there are not enough skilled men in this country and we are being driven out by a useless and vacillating government who clearly just do not know what to do as the country slides ever deeper into recession.
The government do not take into consideration where you live, here in Bratton Clovelly we have a bus once a week, we have to use a car to get to work, or do the weekly shop, we have no other choice, we don't have regular bus or train services, we bought diesel cars because of the higher miles per gallon, now diesel is 15 pence per ltr more expensive, they must take into consideration where people live.
It's all very well for people in large cities with frequent well served public transport to tell us we should be using public transport. If I want to use public transport for my 45 mile round trip commute to work it would take approximately 4- 5 times as long and cost 2.5 times as much. Whilst I would love to not drive and use the train or bus it is not practical unless days get somehow extended and also very un-economical for myself. Plenty of others are in this situation as well. My wife used to have a job 15 miles away which took 2.5 hours to reach by train (if they ran on time). How does that compare to a 30 minute max car journey?
The professor who thinks we should all use public transport should try leaving London. Come down to Devon, public transport is non-existant here (and we NEED 4x4s to get around in winter). I would have more sympathy with his views if they stopped building new roads and re-opened old railway lines.
There was much talk about electric cars on the programme but you didn't make it clear that electricity is not a source of energy but merely a means of moving energy from one place to another. Electricity only provides clean energy if it it is generated cleanly.
I work in the NHS and need a car for my job as well as getting my son to nursery. The increase in fuel costs has made me change my car, losing out financially on the same of my previous car. Have bought a more "greener" car, better fuel efficiency and less tax. Even so, the ever increasing fuel costs are forcing decisions on what to buy to eat each week, we need to choose less expensive options in order to eat and try to make ends meet. So whilst I have taken some steps, the government must help out to and assist to decrease taxation for "essential" travel. Emergency services, transportation of food etc. This would assist a wide number of the population and help decrease the cost of essential items and services.
As usual most people want someone else to do something about fuel prices. Very few people are prepared to modify their driving to reduce fuel consumption, reduce emissions, reduce pollution and reduce their fuel costs. Reduce speed, obey speed limits, minimise acceleration and braking.
Climate change as a result of CO2 emissions and the problem of diminishing oil reserves are such important issues at I really don't think you should be broadcasting this sort of programme. You're acting to diminish the importance of the problems that we face. There really is NO alternative other than drastically reducing fossil fuel consumption and getting cars off the roads. I don't drive. I chose not to. I'm really quite happy and am almost completely unaffected by the relatively high oil prices.
Both the government and Panorama in their recent report neglect the fact that many lower income people need their car to get to work, but cannot afford to change cars let alone purchase a new one. Many also require a car capable of carrying their family, something the electric car shown is manifestly incapable of doing. Once more the government is going to hit with taxes those least able to afford it and the Panorama programme takes a very blinkered, simplistic slant on the problem.
Why was the potential shown by second generation biofuels left out of this discussion? Instead we get the usual naff demonstration of impractical noddy cars run from the electricity produced by coal or gas fired power-stations. Very green indeed. This was an opportunity to show that one day in the near future we may be able to wean ourself off mineral-based oil with non-foodstock based and highly promising biofuels e.g. diesel/petrol produced from algae, switch grasses, jatropha etc. - none of which will require agricultural land or large amounts of clean water to produce. It's vital that people realise the problems we face re: climate change/impending peak oil. Surely biofuels are an easier prospect to sell to a sceptical public than the hairshirt alternatives shown in the programme? On another point, why was Angela Eagle given such a shockingly easy ride over the proposed 'greeness' of VED changes for older vehicles? Keeping an older and well-maintained vehicle on the road is obviously greener than scrapping it and replacing it a newly manufactured vehicle, yet - surprise, surprise - Ms Eagle was never pressed on this point. The retrospective nature of this tax gives 'greeness' a bad name yet as usual the beeb allowed a government minister to get away with it.
I don't think anyone has the complete answer to the current fuel problem, but we can all drive a little gentler and conserve the precious liquid. Manufacturers have the ability to produce very economical vehicles (no-one needs a car to exceed 90 mph for every day use) so lets be sensible and ask for economy and efficiency to at least be the first question we ask of them. The alterative could lead us to stricter controls or rationing from who-so-ever is in government.
I've been expecting higher oil prices for years. It is taught at school that fossil fuels are a finite resource. With the increased demand for oil, it is obvious that prices are going to rise. The world is still in a period where the population as whole is still in exponential growth. Of course there is going to be more competition for the resources that we have including oil. I can only see more fuel price increases over the following decades until there comes the day when there isn't any oil. We do have to develop the technology to be able to do without oil and become more environmentally aware. If that means that we have to sacrifice speed in the short term and become more self sufficient as communities then it may be that we have to adapt. All in all, it has been said for many years that this would happen. Many people have chosen to ignore warnings about price increases while there was cheap petrol and diesel. Now I think the government should remain tough on its policy 'encouraging' the population to abandon 'gas guzzling' vehicles in favour of cheaper, more environmentally friendly vehicles. Maybe this would also encourage a less wasteful society.
If the Government wants more people to use public transport, why don't they make the service more reliable and affordable. That way people would be more inclined to use the service and leave the car at home, I know I would.
We live on an island only 10 minutes by ferry from the mainland BUT we have no source of fuel here. It, therefore, costs the 1400 residents the price of a tank of fuel plus the cost of the ferry ride via Cal-Mac. As a huge percentage of our population is in the "elderly" age range, this added burden adds up to yet another version of "fuel poverty". We do not have any public transport - only a bus that goes from the pier to the ferry slip, so those elderly outwith the route rely on their cars to get into town to shop and access all other services. At least most of the other islands have petrol and diesel. We are forced to make the trip to the mainland to access this necessity. Public Transport - ha ha!
I travel to and from work by electric vehicle every day and have no need for charging points. Unfortunately, the cost of using this electric vehicle goes up faster than inflation every year! How can that be? Well, my electric vehicle is a First Capital Connect train with an overhead electric supply! How do my transport costs compare with those of car users?
Fuel prices are crippling in the Scottish Highlands, there is no public transport and to do your weekly shopping can be a round trip of 30 mls, post office is 6mls round trip any shopping aside from groceries is 160mls minimum, so cars are by no means an affordable luxury but a necessity and yet our fuel prices are the highest in the country. Likewise domestic heating oil which heats proabably 80% of rural homes and is bought in bulk at something in the region of .66p per litre or £660 per fill or easily as much as £1200 per year on top of electricity bills, so please please remember rural dwellers and reduce our fuel / heating costs in line with those who have access to town gas and public transport!!!!!