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Tuesday, December 1, 1998 Published at 00:22 GMT


Four-star petrol banned

Three million car owners will have to switch to unleaded

The BBC's Paul John: Four-star petrol is linked to brain damage in children
Millions of car owners are being warned that four-star petrol will be taken off the forecourts in the year 2000.

The move is designed to bring the UK into line with a European directive on fuel quality.

[ image: Lead from petrol has been linked with brain damage]
Lead from petrol has been linked with brain damage
The government believes that of the five million cars in the UK which run on leaded petrol, three million can be converted to use unleaded fuel.

A very limited supply of four-star will be available through classic car clubs.

A publicity campaign to warn drivers of the change will be launched in the next few weeks.

Oil firms plan alternatives

The junior transport minister Glenda Jackson said in a Commons written reply that four star petrol would be banned from January 1, 2000, under regulations being prepared by the Department of the Environment, Transport and The Regions.

Oil companies are devising lead-free alternatives for four-star cars without the need to install a catalytic converter, said a spokeswoman at the DETR.

Under the directive they will also be required to remove the additives benzene and sulphur from diesel and unleaded fuel.

Four-star petrol has been linked with brain damage in inner-city children and is already banned in Germany, the Netherlands, the USA and Canada.

Chris Goffey: "The longer you keep your car running the more favours you're doing to the environment"
But Chris Goffey, a motoring journalist and former Top Gear presenter, says the action is unnecessary.

"All the new cars coming on the market don't need leaded fuel so sales of leaded fuel have been declining over the last few years," he said. He argued that the average car used most energy in its production.

"So the longer you keep your car running the more favours you're doing to the environment," he said.

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