Buckinghamshire Council to convert first refuse vehicle to electric thanks to government grant

Buckinghamshire Council has been awarded more than half a million pounds to upcycle its first refuse collection vehicle to electric. It marks the start of the Council’s programme to convert its fleet to electric, resulting in zero exhaust emissions.

The £578,000 funding, which was announced this week, is from the Government’s Air Quality Grant, which helps councils to develop and implement measures to reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health.

The grant will cover the cost of upcycling the first vehicle as well as providing a blueprint for the future conversion programme. The funds will also be used to pay for performance trials, spare parts and specialist equipment for maintaining the vehicle. It all paves the way for more vehicle conversions to follow in the future.

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, said:

“This is a landmark moment in our quest to make our vehicle fleet more environmentally friendly, a key strand to our overall Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy. This funding means that not only can we convert our first refuse vehicle to electric power, which is incredibly exciting, it also means we will be able to create a blueprint for future conversions, helping us to overcome the cost barrier of the electrification of the rest of our fleet. We will also be able to share information about the project with other organisations to promote and accelerate the electrification of heavier weight class vehicles.

“The project will improve air quality and carbon emissions in Aylesbury and other areas the electric refuse vehicle travels through, and it will have a big impact on reducing the natural resources usually required to remove and replace old vehicles. 

“This is one part of our climate change and air quality strategy which is working towards a goal of net zero carbon in Buckinghamshire by 2050 and working to improve air quality in the county.”

The upcycled 10-year-old Dennis Eagle 26 tonne refuse collection vehicle will travel 412 miles a week in the north of Aylesbury, including through three air quality management areas. These are areas which have exceeded the air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide so the use of an electric refuse vehicle in these areas will also promote and contribute towards improving air quality. As a result of using the electric refuse vehicle, over 10 tonnes of greenhouse gas, 69 kg of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and half a kilo of particulate matter emissions will be saved per year.

Air pollution is the single biggest environmental risk to public health. As part of the same government funding scheme Buckinghamshire Council has also been awarded a grant to purchase and trial low-cost monitoring sensors which will be part of clean air campaigns throughout the year.