Following a recent trial of hydrogen and electrically powered vehicles, Sheffield’s highways delivery partner Amey announced today it is taking further steps to reduce its carbon emissions and footprint in the city.

Amey is one of the UK’s largest infrastructure support services providers and in 2012 it won a 25-year contract with Sheffield City Council to transform and maintain the city’s road and pavement network.

Despite slashing its carbon footprint by 58% since 2009, the urgency of climate change has prompted a move by Amey to do more.

Sheffield has long pursued progressive policies towards the environment and embraced new, cleaner technology from introducing district heating in the 1980s to trialling the largest fleet of hydrogen vehicles outside of London today.

It recently became the country’s largest council to declare a climate emergency, committing to strengthening its targets to address what it calls the “biggest social justice issue of this century”.

In Sheffield’s case – a city of approximately half a million people – air quality is below safe EU levels. Vehicle emissions, especially diesel, are the major source of the harmful pollutants.

Sheffield City Council is among several local authorities in the UK considering introducing a clean air zone. It is developing support packages and seeking funding from central government to provide a range of incentives such as interest-free loans to enable drivers to change their vehicles to meet new standards.

The current Amey fleet in Sheffield comprises 183 mostly diesel-powered vehicles, ranging from small vans to huge grab wagons and gritters. The team’s total annual diesel consumption is 403,218 litres, with an impact of 1,059 tonnes of CO2e per year.

With looming diesel restrictions and inevitable increases in cost on the way, local managers took the decision in 2017 to trial a range of new sustainable vehicle technologies to reduce their impact.

Nissan ENV200 electric vehicles were tested over a two-year period and Amey’s drivers responded positively commenting on a smoother drive without engine noise, gear or clutch requirements.

Buoyed by the success of this trial, Amey successfully bid for funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) for two Renault Kangoo hydrogen fuelled vans to expand its low carbon fleet. Both these technologies yield no local emissions and, thanks to Sheffield’s own wind-powered hydrogen fuel station and Amey’s green electricity tariff, energy production is carbon neutral.

The success of the overall trial convinced Amey of the benefits of sustainable vehicle technology for its future fleet and Streets Ahead subsequently ordered 20 new electric vans and 21 charging points, one a rapid charge point, at its depots across the city. Further hydrogen vehicles were ruled out due to much higher leasing costs at this stage.

The investment will reduce the team’s annual diesel consumption by 22,700 litres and slash emissions by 59.58 tonnes of carbon and 65.4kg of NOx and particulates per year (using the nextgreencar.com emissions calculator).

At the same time, a driver awareness campaign to cut engine idling is under way, using data from each vehicle’s Masternaut logging system to identify and educate drivers who leave engines running while stationary.

In the tough terrain of Sheffield’s seven hills, local Amey managers have proven that green fleet tech works for their business, convinced senior managers and staff and put themselves at the vanguard of change across Amey’s UK business.

The electric fleet of 22 vehicles and two hydrogen powered vehicles are now on Sheffield’s highway network with 21 new electric charging points plus a rapid charger available for use.

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