Drive towards meeting carbon neutral aspiration by 2040

Seven new environmentally-friendly electric vans, each with a custom-made caged tipping body, are being leased by East Devon District Council in a drive towards reducing its carbon footprint.

The council is one of the first in the country to add the lower emission bespoke Nissan ENV200 vehicles to their fleet with the modification, which means that the vans are used daily to keep the parks and public realm areas of East Devon clean and green. The vans are powered by rechargeable batteries and have a range of between 124 and 187 miles.

Plans are in place to convert more council vehicles to electric in the future and although options to adapt larger vehicles are still limited, the council is hoping to take the lead in trialling them on the road.

The new vehicles and the conversion plans are a step in the right direction towards the council’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Cllr Marianne Rixson, the district council’s portfolio holder for Climate Action, said the new vehicles clearly demonstrated the council’s commitment to reducing the council’s impact on our natural environment and on our air quality.

She said:

I am very encouraged by our greener fleet and I’m excited to see how this area of our work will progress in the future. Each and every one of us faces an enormous environmental challenge and any changes that we can make to reduce our footprint is a positive step forward.”

The council has been using electric vehicles since 2012, but up until now use has been limited by the type of vehicles available. Since signing up to the Devon climate change emergency declaration last year and adopting its climate change action plan, all opportunities are now being explored by the council to find ways of converting more of its fleet to lower carbon electric alternatives.

This has included earmarking a fund of more than £100k from its climate change budget towards the electrification of its fleet as the electric vehicles and their associated infrastructure costs more to purchase initially than standard diesel or petrol vehicles. Over their lifetime the electric vehicles should balance out with lower running costs, and of course more importantly, significantly reduced carbon emissions.

The council has been working with installers of smart electric vehicle charging equipment, Elmtronics, who supplied four smart charging stations in Sidmouth. The charge stations can be increased as more vehicles come on stream.