The Government has announced that new rules on the labelling of petrol and diesel at service stations are to be rolled out from September.

The labels are intended to help motorists to make sure they have the right fuel for their vehicle, preventing mis-fuelling and enhancing understanding of the fuel’s biofuel content. 

The Government has made the announcement as part of its response to the road fuel labelling consultation. The Government said its response to other aspects of the original consultation – concerning E10 petrol and consumer protection – will be announced later in 2019.

The introduction of fuel labelling is required by the European Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID), and follows the publication of the EU Standard EN16942 Fuels- Identification of vehicle compatibility, and the subsequent British Standards Institute (BSI) BS EN 16942.

This sets out harmonised labelling requirements for marketed liquid and gaseous fuels. It requires fuel identifiers to be placed on fuel nozzles at filling stations, on new vehicles and in their manuals as well as in vehicle dealerships. The standard also includes larger labels incorporating the identifier and extra information.

Phil Monger, the PRA’s technical director, who has been instrumental in devising the new guidelines in the Department for Transport (DfT) working party said forecourts will be required to be compliant with the new regulations from 1 September.

The standard sets out the format and scale of graphical identifiers for the three grades of transport fuel: a circle, for petrol-based fuels; a square, for diesel-based fuels; and a diamond, for gaseous fuels.

Within the identifier, a standard text format differentiates the various fuels. For petrol and diesel fuels, this is generally a letter that refers to the biofuel blended into that fuel and a number specifying the maximum percentage volume of that biofuel according to the relevant fuel standard. For gaseous fuels this is an abbreviated text to refer to the fuel.

AFID makes similar requirements for vehicle manufacturers that will apply to all new cars from the date that the new regulations come into force.

The aim of the new labels is to ensure that consumers can select the correct grade of fuel for their vehicle regardless of where they refuel. The fuel identifiers must be placed near the filler cap of new vehicles and on the dispensers of all filling stations selling to the public.

Where petrol filling stations are found to be non-compliant an enforcement notice will be issued with a likely 28-day period to rectify. If that is not met a fine of up to £500 will be levied. In the case of vehicle non-compliance a fine of up to £100 may be levied against the dealer.

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), working with industry, has prepared a publicity campaign with posters, information brochures and a dedicated website in advance of the compliance date.

Monger said: “Several members have asked whether they should change the labels now when new equipment is being installed. My advice has been not to precede the publicity campaign, as delays on the forecourt would be inevitable as motorists try to interpret the labels.”

Jonathan Murray, LowCVP’s deputy director and fuels programme lead, said: “This move is all about helping motorists to choose the right fuel and to help them understand the renewable fuel content of product sold at the pumps.

“It will also help motorists to understand the benefits of using renewable fuels and how they are an important part of the overall strategy for tackling climate change.”