Next steps towards net zero

Strides towards emptying bins and sweeping the streets with electric vehicles are being made as part of fresh plans to slash the council’s carbon emissions.

Published: Monday, 5th September 2022

An electric van is being charged up at the depot

With Cherwell District Council’s executive set to approve the Carbon Management Plan 2022 - 25, works at Thorpe Lane Depot in Banbury are already paving the way for electric bin lorries. 

The plan would bring council carbon emissions to 65 per cent below what they were in 2008/2009 by 2024/2025 and is set to get the green light on Monday 5 September. It includes a provisional timetable for the electrification of all the council’s vehicles.

As emerging electric vehicle technology becomes affordable, Cherwell will need powerful new chargers to keep their batteries topped up. Work is now underway at the Thorpe Lane depot to support these chargers, with a new substation and ducting being built, thanks to a £270,000 investment. 

Councillor Dan Sames, Portfolio Holder for Cleaner and Greener Communities, said: “Cherwell District Council is committed to reaching net zero by 2030, and approval of these plans will mark another significant step towards meeting this ambition.

“Our own emissions may only account for a very small percentage of the district’s overall emissions. But local authorities have a key role in leading the way and we hope that by reaching net zero significantly in advance of the national timeline we can inspire others to follow suit.

“These detailed plans lay out how we will tackle our direct emissions, from our estate and fleet; as well as indirect emissions from the electricity and gas we purchase for our corporate buildings and leisure centres.

“While we’ve already made big cuts to our carbon footprint, with comprehensive upgrades to the way our leisure centres and swimming pools are heated, our fleet is the second biggest source of Cherwell’s carbon emissions and we’re well ahead with making preparations so that as soon as we can electrify our fleet, the infrastructure will be in place to support that.”

Councils everywhere face challenges in replacing bin lorries in particular, because of the high cost of replacing them, the need for 50 kilowatt charging infrastructure and uncertainty over the capability of electric vehicles operating in a mixture of urban and rural areas

The council fleet already includes nine electric vans, with some existing diesel vehicles set to be replaced this year. The report projects that the first electric sweepers could hit the roads during the council year 2023/2024 with the first bin lorries the following year. 

Energy audits of the council’s corporate buildings and leisure centres will also be carried out under the plans to identify actions to reduce their environmental impact.

The report to the executive also summarises work delivering the £5.2m investment of Public Sector Decarbonisation Grant funding. This has reduced the council’s emissions by an estimated 873 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e), with the majority of these savings coming from changing the way leisure centres and swimming pools are heated, historically its biggest course of emissions.

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