GOVERNMENT ministers could soon be chauffeured to appointments in electric cars built on Wearside, following a multi-million-pound pledge to invest in green motors.
It comes following stinging criticism from Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson after it was revealed that not a single Government department uses Nissan vehicles.
She said not one of the 85 cars in the Government car pool used to ferry important ministers around was a Nissan, even though the service had tried out an electric Leaf car built at the car giant’s Washington plant.
Now though, the Government has announced a £5million ultra low emission vehicle readiness project to make electric cars and other plug-in vehicles commonplace in Government fleets.
The move will allow every central Government car service to review its arrangements and consider how greener vehicles can be used.
Ms Phillipson today urged ministers that the only choice for the fleet should be Nissan’s Wearside-made cars, not those from other countries.
She said: “For too long, this Government has failed to lead by example.
“Since 2010, one in four cars bought for ministers were made outside the UK and there isn’t a single Nissan car available in the current fleet.
“I have been pressing ministers to lead by example and back British manufacturing excellence and jobs on Wearside.
“The review of the Government car fleet is an opportunity to put this right and I will be holding ministers to their commitments.”
On top of the announced investment, the scheme will also be expanded in the autumn to allow the wider public sector including councils, police forces and the NHS, to introduce more plug-in vehicles.
This is expected to add approximately a further 135 plug-in vehicles to these fleets.
In both phases, chargepoints will also be installed to provide infrastructure support for the new cars and vans.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “I am delighted the Government Car Service is leading the move to electric vehicles and I will be one of the first in line to use one.
“This is the right thing to do, with much lower running costs and close to zero emissions, these vehicles will save the taxpayer money and be much greener.
“We are investing significantly in ultra-low emission vehicles which will help ensure they play an important role in the UK economy as well as the environment.”
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