Great Big Green Week 2022: Reducing the emissions from transport at Warwickshire County Council

Find out how Warwickshire County Council has reduced emissions from its fleet of vehicles and how it is investing in an electric vehicle future.

In the fifth, and final, part of Warwickshire County Council’s Great Big Green Week series the subject of transport is discussed. Find out more about the ways in which the Council is reducing its carbon emissions and the investment it has made into increasing the number of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging locations across the county.

Warwickshire County Council operates a fleet of over 700 vehicles of all shapes and sizes that include:

  • Fire appliances;
  • Specialist transport buses;
  • Gritters
  • Staff pool cars; and
  • A variety of service-specific support vehicles (waste, forestry, libraries etc)

In 2014/15, carbon emissions from Warwickshire’s fleet of vehicles were 1,396 tonnes of CO2, in 2019/20, this had dropped to 1181 tonnes of CO2. This drop in emissions is accounted for by some key initiatives.

The environmentally conscious purchasing of vehicles

When vehicles in the Warwickshire fleet are replaced, the Council will always strive to purchase low emission (Euro 6 standard) replacements. This happened recently with the purchase of 10 new specialist transport buses:

https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/news/article/2193/warwickshire-unveils-10-new-environmentally-friendly-school-buses

In addition to their excellent emissions rating, the buses are each fitted with their own solar panel array and battery storage, which allows ancillary services (such as aircon) to be powered by a renewable source, which dramatically reduces fuel consumption.

While the Council’s fleet of older buses delivers around 8 miles per gallon (mpg), the newest additions to the fleet will comfortably deliver close to 30mpg for a similar journey.

A similar story can be found in the recent purchase of 5 new Gritters that joined Warwickshire’s fleet in 2020: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/news/article/1413/help-to-find-a-name-for-the-latest-additions-to-warwickshire-s-fleet-of-green-gritters

The Council’s commitment is to explore more sustainable vehicles where possible for its fleet, however it is currently felt the range per charge on larger electric vehicles is not yet suitable for their use in a rural County such as Warwickshire. Whenever new vehicles are purchased, the Council will always assess all the options – Electric, Hydrogen Cells etc – as technology is improving and range increasing all the time.

A different type of public transport

Warwickshire County Council has for some time been funding what is known as demand-responsive transport in Atherstone, Colehill and Rugby through the innovative Indiego Service, operated by Stagecoach.

Demand responsive transport is exactly as it sounds – instead of having buses running set times and locations irrespective of local need, Indiego responds to the public transport needs of residents in those areas, even providing a door-to-door service for residents with mobility issues.

The vehicles used for the indiego service and low emission rated and the nature of demand responsive transport inevitably reduces emissions when compared to traditional public transport.

Find out more:

Building on the success of the Indiego services in Atherstone, Coleshill and Rugby, Warwickshire County Council – working again with Stagecoach and expert provider, Liftango – launched the IndiegoPLUS Service for Hatton and West Warwick in May 2022.

The IndiegoPLUS Service offers the same demand-responsive public transport as the Indigo service and allows residents in Hatton and West Warwick to book journeys in advance via an app on their mobile phones. The IndiegoPlus Service is also underpinned by Liftango’s carbon-positive policy, which means that each and every journey taken with the service will be more than offset through a variety of carbon offsetting activities.

Find out more about IndiegoPLUS in Hatton and West Warwick here: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/public-transport/indiego/3

Looking to the future

Looking ahead, Warwickshire County Council will continue to works towards reducing the emissions of its fleet of vehicles and over the coming years:

  • Warwickshire’s Fire and Rescue Service – who already operate a number of electric vehicles – will be exploring the possibility of using bio-ethanol in their fire appliances to further reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality; and
  • The Council will be supporting the roll-out of Electric Coventry, which will see electric buses completing journeys between the city and parts of Warwickshire.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging

In addition to getting, its own house in order in relation to vehicle emissions, Warwickshire County Council is committed to improving electric vehicle charging infrastructure around the County to enable residents to make the switch to EVs.

Over the last 18 months, the Council has been successful in submitting bids to secure approximately £800lk of grants and investment to help improve EV charging availability in Warwickshire.

As a result of securing this funding, it has been able to deliver 170 7kw charge points, across 26 charging hubs located in a mixture of locations across Warwickshire.

The combined public and private charge point installations have had a significant positive impact. Warwickshire’s position compared to the English average has moved from below to above the England average over the period 2020-2022 with an average of 51.6 charging devices per 100,000 people in population across the County.

Cllr Heather Timms, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for Environment, Heritage and Culture, said: “From choosing new vehicles that are rated for their low emissions to demand-responsive public transport and exploring the use of electric vehicles whilst providing the infrastructure for our residents to do the same, we are very proud of the efforts that have been made to reduce the emissions from our fleet.

“We appreciate that electric vehicles might not be for all our residents, but there are things that most people can do to dramatically reduce their own vehicle emissions and the primary way to achieve this is to ditch the car for short journeys and try an active travel alternative: Walking cycling or Scooting. Not only is this better for individual health, it also makes a huge difference to carbon emissions and air quality.”

Find out more about Big Green Week here: https://greatbiggreenweek.com/

Find a local Big Green Week event here: https://greatbiggreenweek.com/find-an-event/

There is just a short time remaining for community and voluntary groups to get their applications in for the second round of the Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund. Find out more: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/regeneration-projects/green-shoots-community-climate-change-fund-2022

For more information about how Warwickshire County Council is facing the challenges of the climate change emergency, visit: https://www.warwickshireclimateemergency.org.uk/

Published: 29th September 2022