An alternative fuel station could be installed in the Lower Aire Valley to improve access to cleaner, cheaper fuels for businesses in the city.
The council, working in partnership with gas distributer Northern Gas Networks secured partial funding for the City CNG project through a Network Innovation Competition grant from OFGEM.
A large proportion of this money will go towards facilitating the gas mains connection, which comes at a substantial cost, and has proved to be a barrier to the private sector delivering alternative fuel stations in the past.
Councillors will be asked to give the go ahead to move forward with the purchase of a piece of land for the station at a meeting of the council’s executive board next week (Wednesday 7 February 2018). This will enable the development of a fuelling station for the council’s fleet, as well as other vehicles fuelled by Compressed Natural Gas.
Previously forming part of a waste water treatment works, the site is the ideal location for a new station, being close to both the high pressure gas main, recycling and energy facility and the council’s fleet depot. The fuelling station will also bring about significant savings for the council in terms of the amount it spends on fuel costs, with a link to the gas main being a far cheaper means of re-fuelling than having to bring the fuel in from elsewhere.
The council has been exploring a number of opportunities to reduce pollution via its own vehicle fleet, and will have just under 100 electric vehicles by the end of 2018 – making it the largest EV fleet operated by any local authority in the UK. However there is also a need to look at alternatives to diesel for the large number of heavy good vehicles that the council currentlly runs.
Long term trials have been ongoing with a number of natural gas powered refuse collection vehicles which have shown to have considerable impacts on improving air quality, so much so the council is now proposing to convert its whole fleet of refuse collection vehicles to compressed natural gas over time.
The proposed alternative fuel station would be delivered through a joint venture with a private sector partner and would look to serve CNG as a minimum, with other alternative fuels to be included so as to widen the use of the station.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member for sustainability and the environment said:
“As a city we are clearly demonstrating our commitment and ambitions to improving air quality through new low carbon technologies, and we are keen to move forward on a number of initiatives such as the CNG filling station to further our commitment to improve air quality throughout Leeds, and not just in the city centre.
“News that we have found a suitable piece of land comes at a great time as we are looking to take delivery of our first CNG street sweeper in early March – another more sustainable vehicle to add to our fleet.
“We are currently in the middle of our clean air consultation, and are pleased with the number of responses we have had so far – over 4000 to date. There are still four weeks left for people to have their say, and I would urge everyone to take a look and take a few minutes of their day to take part.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member for regeneration, transport and planning said:
“Through developing the station we will also be saving on the cost of re-fuelling these vehicles which is great news. By looking at purchasing land in the vicinity of the Leeds Enterprise Zone, we also hope to open up options for other businesses, especially those with larger vehicle fleets, to move to more sustainable options for fuel.
“Should the scheme be given the go-ahead, we will start looking for a private sector partner to deliver the station with us as a joint venture. As much as we have initially talked about CNG as the preferred option, any partner we look to join up with we would be looking for ambition and innovation, and bigger ideas that will help us future proof the city.”
Richard Hynes-Cooper, head of innovation at Northern Gas Networks said:
“The City CNG project is a genuinely exciting prospect for the Leeds region. Low carbon fuel and green transport will play key roles in the UK’s future energy mix, and cleaner fuels like CNG have the potential to unlock significant benefits in terms of air quality and start making a difference today.
“There is potential to open the fuelling station to any ‘back to depot’ vehicle including buses, taxis and commercial fleet, including our own vans.”
Should for any reason the land not be used for an alternative fuelling station, it is placed in close proximity to the councils Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility and therefore would be useful for the council in terms of the expansion to meet operational requirements.
As part of its commitment to reducing pollution in the city and to ensure the city reaches its air quality targets by 2020, the council is currently consulting on a Clean Air Zone that would charge all buses, coaches and HGVs and taxi and private hire vehicles that do not meet the minimum emission standards. There are still four weeks left for people to have their say at www.leeds.gov.uk/airqualityconsultation