This government has a clear view that our future economic prosperity will be assured if the UK can emerge as global leaders in the race to a new transportation era. This involves automated vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles.

The Secretary of State for DEFRA Michael Gove announced that there would be no new petrol and diesel engine vehicles permitted after 2040. Subsequent enquiries confirmed that hybrid engines would not be affected. It should be noted that this is an ’aspiration’ not a legally binding commitment.

The government then went even further by demanding that all vehicle tailpipe exhausts should be Zero Emission by 2050.

These are all serious technological and commercial challenges which will need willing and financially able consumers to make them happen.

One thing we can be certain about is that government will only seed-fund such developments, for the scale of investment required is just staggering.

In the UK, we have recently had the Automated & Electric Vehicle Bill pass through Commons on its second reading and it was interesting to be invited to give evidence to the Standing Committee in Parliament appraising the content. On behalf of our MSA members (representing close to 80% of all such forecourts across the UK) and our ’large fuel retailers’, I remonstrated with the Rt Hon John Hayes MP, Minister for Transport, that the Bill mandating these outlets to invest in EV charging points was ’too much stick and not enough carrot’.

In other words, seed-funding is essential to encourage speculative investment at this stage, and mandating with the ultimate prospect of civil penalties for failure to comply, just far too interventionist and unnecessary. I have written to the Minister to reinforce this position. It really cannot be acceptable that any government unfairly funds competition such as workplace, leisure centres, street communities, without offering the same to existing refuelling outlets.

These are going to be challenging times ahead when a credible trade association is essential.and I have not even mentioned the RTFO and E10 petrol!