Back in 2010 Leeds City Council set about establishing an ambitious programme to implement low emission vehicle technologies and to get involved in vehicle emission research. Tackling climate change is one of the strategic priorities for Leeds City Council, indeed Leeds is committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 so reducing damaging carbon emissions from the organisation’s fleet through adopting alternatively fuelled vehicles was only natural.
Although alternative fuels have been on the authority’s agenda for many years, it is more recently, due to improved technologies and the objectives to reduce emissions further, that more emphasis has been given to the fleet.
Indeed, six years ago Leeds was the first council to introduce a CNG fuelled refuse collection vehicle to the fleet with help from Department for Transport funding. There have been no issues with this and so another five vehicles have been purchased and there are plans to get a CNG fuel station on site by 2018.
Terry Pycroft, Head of Fleet Services, whose role it is to manage the authority’s vehicles efficiently while ensuring compliance, has been leading the charge: “We want our fleet to run on alternative fuels that are greener than the petrol and diesel engines we have traditionally used. We are constantly looking at the options open to us.”
Leeds City Council has also purchased a large number of vehicles its EV fleet – 43 in total, the first of which has now been delivered. 42 of these are Nissans – a combination of vans and cars that have been purchased through the authority’s own alternative fuel purchasing framework. There is also one Goupil. The vehicles are being utilised in a wide range of council services including facilities management, city centre enforcement, cleaning, construction services and fleet safety. It’s estimated that the vehicles will travel a combined total of around 450,000 miles a year offering fuel savings of £24,600.
Pycroft continued: “To keep the vehicles as versatile as possible there are no specific conversions, so they can be shared between different services. Charging points have been fitted on council sites and, because the vehicles have a 90-mile range they fit perfectly for use by local services.
“Maintenance of the EVs will be done in-house where we have 32 engineers being trained over the next 12 months.”
Before commitment to purchasing the vehicles was made a number were trialled in construction services and feedback on the Nissans was excellent. All drivers will be given vehicle familiarisation sessions from the council’s safety team as the vehicles start to arrive.
As well as greening its own fleet, the council is continuing to encourage people to use sustainable transport and working to help remove barriers for the transport industry to make positive changes too. Residents in Leeds who own ultra low emission vehicles can now apply for a free parking permit under a new council initiative. The free 12-month permit can be used in pay and display bays on the street and in pay and display bays in council run car parks. Only vehicles recognised by the Department for Transport for the
plugged in grant scheme will qualify for the permit, which will be paid for out of the council’s budget.
Technology is crucial to any plan and Leeds City Council needed alternatives to the standard diesel fleet although, Pycroft points out, there are barriers with a lack of vehicles in the market and difficulty due to additional costs affecting business cases.
Because there are higher expectations from services on turnaround times and compliance around driver training, general understanding of the operator licence system and transport awareness in an ever changing landscape, fleet management currently is a challenge there to be embraced. Being at the forefront of cutting carbon and improving air quality will mean that Leeds can lead and advise other local authorities too.
The council will be hosting a fleet forum on alternative fuels and compliance in partnership
with APSE on 30th September. For further information about the event please email