Babergh and Mid Suffolk will consider proposals to cut their fleet’s carbon emissions by up to 90% – supporting the councils’ carbon neutral aims.

Next month, on 4 and 7 January, Cabinets at Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils will consider proposals to move their vehicle fleet to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

The proposals form a major step in the councils’ Carbon Reduction Management Plan, which sets out how net zero carbon emissions aim to be achieved by 2030.

If approved, the move would see a significant reduction in pollutant emissions for the fleet, including up to a 90% reduction in CO2. It would also support a circular economy, as the HVO fuel is produced from sustainable feedstock, including waste cooking oil.

Currently, the councils’ vehicle fleet represents 26% of the councils’ total CO2 emissions, approximately 880 tonnes per year.

The fleet includes the councils’ 35 waste lorries, as well as some vehicles used by the public realm and housing services.

Moving to the new fuel will initially cost around £50k per council. An estimated further £56 – £97k per year, per council, over the next three years, will also need to be agreed to cover fuel costs.

However, by using HVO, lower maintenance costs and longer engine life for the vehicles are expected.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money collected from new development is anticipated to cover most of the initial cost of the two HVO tanks. These would be located at the councils’ depots in Stowmarket and Sudbury.

Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi, cabinet member for environment at Babergh District Council, 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.”

HVO fuel provides an almost immediate and efficient way to reduce emissions. This is because, aside from slightly increased fuel costs and new tanks, the transition from traditional diesel fuel to HVO requires minimal changes to the councils’ existing fleet.

Cllr Jessica Fleming, cabinet member for environment at Mid Suffolk District Council, 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.”

Formal procurement of a fuel supplier would start straight away, with the changeover expected to be fully rolled out by Summer 2021.