Britain urges motorists to change to cheaper gas
"Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is an option which has already removed thousands of motorists from uncertainty about pump prices. I hope many more motorists will consider it," Wilson said in a statement.
Drivers are facing higher petrol prices at the start of 2003 amid increased tension over a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq and a crippling month-long strike in key oil producer Venezuela.
Supermarket retailer Safeway (STW.L) lifted its petrol pump prices by two pence on January 1. Other retailers have already done so or are set to follow.
British motorists suffer from some of the highest petrol prices in the world, with an average of 75.5 pence ($1.22) a litre. Government taxes make up around 80 percent of the total.
"LPG is half the price of petrol. It emits fewer greenhouse gases and is therefore one of the most environmentally friendly options currently available," Wilson said.
While making millions from taxing petrol, Britain is providing incentives for cleaner fuels as part of its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases - blamed for global warming - under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol.
LPG produces around 12 percent less carbon dioxide than petrol, and fewer harmful particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions than diesel.
The government recently provided one million pounds ($1.61 million) to help train garage mechanics to convert engines to LPG and covers half of the 1,700 pound ($2,741) conversion cost. It has frozen duty on LPG after reducing it 40 percent in 2001.
LPG vehicles will also be exempt from a congestion charge for drivers entering central London from mid-February.
The government hopes to increase use of LPG vehicles in Britain to 250,000 by 2005 from only around 65,000 in 2002, even though few fuel stations currently sell the gas. More than five million drivers use LPG worldwide.