Vegetable oil-fuel vehicles set to help two Suffolk councils cut CO2 by a quarter

Suffolk County Council's latest figures suggest a £43m impact from coronavirus for 2020/21. Picture

Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are planning a move to hydrotreated vegetable oil fuels for their vehicle fleet - Credit: Archant

Plans to replace diesel with vegetable oil-based fuel for refuse trucks and vehicle fleets is being proposed for two Suffolk councils as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are planning to move their vehicle fleet of refuse trucks and cars to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuels.

HVO is a form of fuel produced from sustainable and renewable vegetable oils, and the councils say it will cut up to 90% of carbon emissions from its vehicles.

Councillor Jessica Fleming said the important of freedom for people needed to be kept in mind. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mid Suffolk cabinet member for the environment Jessica Fleming - Credit: Archant

Mid Suffolk District Council Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Jessica Fleming, said: "Making sure we help to create bright and healthy futures for the next generation, while protecting the environment, is one of our most important jobs.

“If approved, moving to a greener and cleaner fuel for our fleet will bring us significantly closer to achieving our commitment to be zero carbon by 2030, as well as to a cleaner and healthier environment.

“We know we can’t do it alone, however, by leading the way and setting an example, we hope others will be encouraged to follow.”

The councils said their vehicles currently represent around a quarter of their total CO2 emissions, meaning the move will be significant step towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030, as pledged when both declared climate emergencies last year.

If approved by both councils' cabinets in January, a requirement for £50,000 each for the switch will be needed, while a further sum of between £56,000 and £97,000 per year for the next three years will be needed for each council to cover fuels costs.

However, the authorities say it will reduce maintenance costs and extend the life of those vehicles.

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Community infrastructure levy funds - those from housing developers for key community improvements - will help fund the new HVO tanks set to be stationed at council depots in Stowmarket and Sudbury.

Elisabeth Malvisi, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for environment. Picture: BABERGH DISTR

Babergh environment cabinet member Elisabeth Malvisi said the switch to HVO would be a big boost to carbon reduction targets - Credit: Archant

Babergh's environment cabinet member, Elisabeth Malvisi, Conservative, said: "If approved, this move would be a major step towards achieving the ambitions set out in our carbon reduction management plan.

“Our fleet enables us to carry out some of our most visible work such as collecting your bin, but it’s also one of our biggest polluters.

“HVO fuel provides us with a valuable and almost immediate solution for reducing our emissions, so we can work towards Babergh’s bright and greener future.”

Dan Pratt, Mid Suffolk councillor said the impact of more cycling should not be underestimated. Pict

Dan Pratt from Mid Suffolk's opposition Green and Lib Dem group cautiously welcomed the HVO fuels plan - Credit: Archant

Councillor Dan Pratt, from Mid Suffolk's opposition Green and Liberal Democrat, group said:  “Reducing the carbon emissions from Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s waste collection fleet was one of the many measures identified by our cross-party environment and climate change task force.”

“The group cautiously welcomes the switch from diesel to HVO, but the net environmental benefits of this shift depends on whether we can guarantee the ecological sustainability of the HVO source, and the availability of a sustainable HVO supply in the long-term.”