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Car-makers' change of plans hit 'hydrogen highway' hopes.

PLANS to turn the M4 into a "hydrogenhighway"couldberun off the road before they get properly under way, it has emerged. Earlier this month Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and Assembly Environment Minister Jane Davidson enthusiastically endorsed a plan that would make South Wales a major centre for hydrogen-fuelled cars.

But the manufacturer most likely to mass produce such vehicles has decided to end its testing programme. The only tangible plan to make hydrogen available to the public near the M4involves a grant of pounds 240,000 to the SouthWales Alternative Fuel Gateway project, run by the University of Glamorgan. BMW announced it was halting "real-world" testing of its so-called 7 Series Hydrogen vehicles.

Group spokesman David Buchko said: "The road test programme is closing because BMW doesn't see the need to go to the expense of converting hundreds of models to use a hydrogen engine when there is still no meaningful hydrogen fuelling infrastructure to supply them."

There are 200hydrogenstations worldwide, many of which are reserved for military, government, and commercial use.

Ford and Renault have scrapped their hydrogen development programmes, arguing the technology is too far away from viability.

Former Bridgend Council leaderJeffJonessaid:"This isnothing short of a scandal, given the impression created that the hydrogen highway could lead to more jobs and increased prosperity."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 23, 2010
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