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A flag waved during a climate change protest in York this year Picture: Frank Dwyer

SWITCHING to electric vehicles is not the answer to cutting carbon emissions from buses and lorries in York, a climate change meeting heard.

Bosses from Nestlé, bus operator First Group and City of York Council’s own vehicle fleet were asked about the challenges they face in lowering emissions from transport.

Andrew Griffiths from Nestlé revealed that the confectionery company has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by just over 60 per cent since 2007.

But he said there is still work to be done on transporting its products in a more environmentally-friendly way - with future options including biomethane-fuelled lorries and using rail to move goods.

He said:

“Electrification is a prime opportunity for domestic vehicles but for freight it’s a much bigger challenge.

“The increase in weight as a result of the the size of batteries is significant. Also there’s currently a challenge around range, depending on what the recharging facilities look like.”

Jon Harman from First echoed concerns about electrification - saying that the company looked at recharging 107 buses at its James Street depot overnight but found it is limited by the power network.

He said:

“Getting sufficient power to put all the energy back into the vehicles overnight is a big challenge.

“Electrification also requires a great deal of lithium to be dug out of the ground [for batteries].”

But he added that emissions from the company’s buses were reduced by eight per cent last year thanks to several initiatives - including training drivers to drive more efficiently.

“This year we’ll see the delivery of our next 21 full electric double deckers for the Park&Ride, bringing York fleet to approximately 30 per cent zero-carbon.”

Ian Hoult, head of fleet at the council, said an electric bin lorry could cost about £395,000 - more than double the cost of an equivalent diesel vehicle. He added:

“Listening to the industry, electrification is not the long-term answer. It’s hydrogen.”


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