Ingenious Welsh motorists could be forgiven for thinking the United Kingdom is becoming a 'police state'. According to the Daily Telegraph, diesel car owners in Llanelli, west Wales, who fill their vehicles with a mix of cooking oil and methanol, are "under persecution" - being tracked down and their cars impounded while they face a £500 ($US750) fine plus £150 towing fee.

Their alleged heinous crime? According to the newspaper, it’s dodging Britain’s exorbitant fuel duty, reckoned by most commentators to account for around 75% of the pump price.

In this case, the Daily Telegraph says, the cost comparison is around 74p a litre for diesel and 32p for the cooking oil – which works out at around £3.33 ($US5.00) a gallon compared with £1.44.

Running the story as part of its on-going “A Free Country” campaign (the logo is a pair of handcuffs), the Daily Telegraph said: “This is hardly the stuff of sharp-suited spivs, stockpiling petrol at the height of the Second World War. It is in the glorious British tradition of the amateur scientist, knocking up inventions in his shed at the bottom of the garden to make life a little easier.”

Having noted that the cars run on cooking oil and methanol emit a “pleasant whiff of gently frying oil, the Daily Telegraph added: “The legislation behind this outrage, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, has a distinctly funny smell about it.”