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Saturday, April 25, 1998 Published at 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK

UK: Politics

Red-faced Prescott prangs green car
image: [ John Prescott enjoys the drive - until his abrupt halt ]
John Prescott enjoys the drive - until his abrupt halt

Watch John Prescott's eventful "green" drive
The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, who has been promoting the benefits of clean energy at a seminar of EU ministers, has discovered the pleasure and pain of going green.

He eagerly took the controls of a mock-up solar-powered car for the benefit of officials and cameramen at an exhibition in Chester.

[ image: The solar car was left stuck under a taxi bumper]
The solar car was left stuck under a taxi bumper
But after a nippy lap of the forecourt, Mr Prescott, more used to a gas-guzzling Jaguar, was rather slow on the brakes and collided with a cleaner fuel taxi.

The taxi was said to be only slightly damaged while the solar car, similar to one produced by Honda for a TV advertisement, also escaped lightly.

"The solar car slightly nudged the taxi and there is minimal damage. It will be on show at the green vehicle exhibition in the afternoon," said one of Mr Prescott's aides.

'Action is vital'

Before the visit, Mr Prescott signalled a key role for local communities in the fight to curb global warming and pollution.

[ image: Prescott: Local solutions to local problems]
Prescott: Local solutions to local problems
He told the EU transport and environment ministers, trade unionists, local authorities and environment groups that national and international action was vital if the Kyoto climate change target for reducing greenhouse gases was to be met.

"I want everyone to be involved in the debate about the future of transport in our communities," said Mr Prescott.

"It will focus on local solutions to local problems and I believe regional bodies can make a difference when it comes to the environment, tackling issues like air quality and congestion."

Mr Prescott said there is often a bigger picture that local interests should share in and benefit from.

"Kyoto set legal targets, we now have to work out the policies to deliver them. It is quite a challenge for all of us."

Green Queen

The Deputy Prime Minister flies to New York on Wednesday to sign the landmark Kyoto Agreement setting legally binding targets for reduced emissions of gases believed to contribute to global warming.

The European Commission set the ball rolling on March 31 when it urged EU governments to accept immediate proposals for new car engine and fuel standards as well as higher taxes on all fossil fuels.

The weekend's brainstorming sessions in England are expected to lead to formal decisions when the ministers meet again in Brussels on June 17.

The Queen is also joining the push for cleaner vehicles. Mr Prescott said four of the royal cars are to be converted to run on Liquid Petroleum Gas and one of her five Rolls-Royces will be changed over.


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