Press release and picture by West Oxfordshire Council.

West Oxfordshire District Council has taken delivery of three battery electric Toyota Proace utility vans as the authority continues to look at opportunities to reduce the carbon emissions of its daily operations, including within the waste, recycling and street cleansing service, as part of its net-zero carbon commitments.  

The vans are the newest additions to the Council’s fleet and each van is powered by a 50kw lithium ion battery and can travel 120 miles on a single charge. The vans are expected to save the region 100 tonnes of CO2 each year. 

The Council has planned to expand the number of electric vehicle it owns with the purchase of two zero-emission street sweepers which are due for delivery in spring, said the release. 

Councillor Lidia Arciszewska, Cabinet Member for Environment at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Our commitment that Council activities will be net-zero by 2030 is an ambitious target which brings immense challenges. Around 45% of the District Council’s total greenhouse gas emissions are the result of the vehicles used on the waste and recycling, street cleansing, and grounds maintenance contracts so it’s crucial that we find the most sustainable ways to provide these services to residents. We need to continue our programme of investing in alternative-fuel vehicles if we are to succeed in reducing local air pollution and the emissions that contribute towards global warming.” 

“While we’re proud of the progress that’s been made, there’s still a great amount of work to be done in terms of decarbonising the larger fleet vehicles. Working with Ubico and with the support of industry experts, we continue to monitor the latest advances in low-carbon transport, including electric and hydrogen, and the potential these evolving technologies offer for transitioning the heavier waste collection vehicles in the future.” 

The new vans will be used by Ubico staff on a daily-to-day basis with the aim of street cleansing and grounds maintenance functions. 

Ian Bourton, Head of Fleet Operations at Ubico, said: “In addition to the immediate environmental benefits, electric vehicles typically have lower running and maintenance costs than an equivalent petrol or diesel model, adding up to long-term savings.  To maximise the benefits we also look at how the vehicle is being driven and work with our staff so they adopt a more economic driving style and use techniques such as regenerative braking that feeds energy back to the battery.” 

Investing in electric vehicles is just one area the Council is pursuing to decarbonise its activities and those of the wider district to deliver on its corporate priority of “leading the way in protecting and enhancing the environment by taking action locally on climate change.”  

The release has stated that recent projects include working with partners to provide electric vehicle charging points in District Council car parks and supporting those living in the district’s most least energy efficient homes to access funding to install measures to improve energy performance and warmth, while a project still in the early stages, is looking at the benefits of adding solar panels to council-owned buildings to provide a source of renewable green energy.