The UK will soon be unable to produce enough diesel to satisfy domestic demand, according to the RAC Foundation, putting it at risk of becoming completely dependant on foreign markets.
In its latest report, the motoring research group said the number of diesel-run cars in Britain had increased from 1.6m in 1994 to 11m in 2014, but that there had been little rise in output to account for this.
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The result is that we are now using around twice as much fuel as we are producing, causing us to become increasingly dependent on markets like Russia and India to satisfy our needs. Britain first became a net importer of the fuel in 2006, and just two years ago imported 45 per cent of its total supply.
On top of this, the number of British refineries is going down – in 2009, the UK had nine large refineries, but three of these have since ended operations. In the report, the researchers said:
The UK refining industry continues to face a challenging commercial environment, one that is exacerbated by stricter legislation than that faced by non-EU competitors.
And the situation is set to escalate – the foundation estimates that by the time 2030 comes around, diesel will be four times as popular as petrol among UK drivers.
Bad for the environment
While use of diesel continues to rise, concerns have been voiced about the damage this fuel can do to the environment. Earlier this week, Defra suggested a new charging scheme for diesel drivers in the UK's major cities, in an attempt to discourage the use of these vehicles.
If the plans go ahead, diesel drivers will be charged every time they try to enter London, Leeds, Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Southampton will all face
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
The mismatch of domestic supply and demand would be notable of itself, but the report comes at a time when a question mark is already hanging over our growing affection for diesel engines – prompted largely by concerns over air quality and emissions of particulates and nitrogen dioxide.