PRA chairman Brian Madderson believes the government is taking a more “realistic” and “pragmatic” approach to the introduction of E10 fuel, following a meeting with officials at the Department for Transport (DfT).

The government has had a long-term plan to introduce E10 fuel to meet emissions targets, but the PRA has been resisting warning that neither consumers nor the industry were ready for it, and smaller filling stations would be put at a financial disadvantage that could push many of them out of business.

After the meeting Madderson said: “It seems that officials and the Government have heeded our warning that before they commence any proposal for the introduction of E10, the commercial implications must be fully explored and solutions agreed both by industry and government.

“In particular I found the DfT were pragmatic and commercial and their view is that E10 is never going to be adopted unless there is real consumer confidence and desire to buy it.”

He said an example of this new approach was that a DfT consultation document, which was due out in July and would have covered the roll-out of E10, appears to have been shelved.

He said he now expected a consultation document would come out in the autumn and would look more generally at how the transport sector could tackle climate change.

He added: “I’m sensing there has been a quite a significant change and that the PRA has been instrumental in this because what I have said to the government and the officials is ‘You would look very foolish to launch a consultation document on E10 roll-out when some of the aspects have not been properly considered.

“Do we know what performance reduction you get with E10 compared with E5? Independent tests, which the consumer would trust, need to be run on that, and how are you going to sell that to the consumer?”

Non-compliant engines were another issue, he raised. He said. “Is there agreement between government and industry about how many there are and what are the implications for the owners and users of those vehicles?

Madderson said he was now pushing for a meeting with transport minister John Hayes to get his views on the issue.