Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
Scottish councils have come out on top as having the most electric vehicles on their fleet, according to a study looking into which councils in the UK own electric vehicles.
Freedom of information requests were sent by Intelligent Car Leasing to 433 councils across the UK to find out if they own any electric vehicles, and 95 per cent responded. The study found that around one third (34 per cent) have at least one electric vehicle. And out of the top five local authorities with the highest number of electric vehicles, four of them are in Scotland.
Dundee City Council had the highest number of purely electric vehicles, with 38 in local operation during the last quarter of 2014.
South Lanarkshire came second with 24 electric vehicles, closely followed by City of Glasgow, with 22.
Fife Council was in the fifth spot with 17, beaten by the London Borough of Islington in fourth position with 19.
Perhaps the reason for Scotland’s success is the government’s pledge in 2013 for the country’s towns and cities to be free of emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles by 2050. This ambitious vision was revealed in its roadmap to plug-in vehicles, Switched On Scotland. It says that electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will make a substantial contribution to this ambition.
The roadmap includes pledges to install charge points at all main government buildings and to replace Scottish government vehicles with plug-in vehicles, where appropriate, as part of the ongoing vehicle replacement cycle. What’s more, it says it will support public sector fleet operators to access evidence-based analysis to create new opportunities for the deployment of plug-in vehicles.
Top of the list: Dundee
Dundee City Council has 38 plug-in vehicles on the road, with a mixture of cars and vans which are used across many departments, from corporate laundry, joiners, painters, supervisors and pool cars. This is supported by an increasing recharging infrastructure which currently includes two rapid chargers. A further two rapid chargers were announced in October 2014 thanks to a £22k Transport Scotland grant.
At the time of the announcement, environment convener Councillor Craig Melville said: “This is another important step in our commitment to environmentally friendly transport. These additional charging points will help us to keep up the momentum for electric cars in Dundee by making them even more accessible.”
South Lanarkshire Council’s electric vehicle fleet includes plug-in cars, an electric van, and two electric street sweepers.
The sweepers are deployed within the Council’s town centres and precincts, replacing the previous diesel powered sweepers and are used on a daily basis.
Although initially sceptical over ability and battery performance, feedback from the employees using the electric sweepers has been very positive and all comment on the reduced noise and emissions allowing the units to operate at times the previous diesel powered units could not.
Members of the public have often commented on the use of the electric sweepers and the improvement this has made to the local environment. Although heavier diesel powered sweepers are still required, these are concentrated on the more demanding areas.
Also within the area, Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service bought an electric vehicle for its community fire station and national training head quarters in Cambuslang, while NHS Lanarkshire has taken on two electric vans to provide services to local hospitals.
The two remaining Scottish Councils in the top five list is City of Glasgow Council at the third spot, and Fife Council at number five. Both councils have a fleet of electric vehicles and charge points, with a growing charging infrastructure.
Islington’s green fleet
The first English council on the list, at the number four slot, is the London Borough of Islington, who scooped last year’s Public Sector fleet of the Year Award in the medium to large category at the GreenFleet Awards.
The council’s electric fleet is powered by renewable wind energy. It’s highways maintenance department runs an electric van which is the first vehicle on call for emergency repairs in the night due to its virtually silent operation.
What’s more, council staff are able to use bicycles and electric scooters for getting around the borough.
The fact that over one third of councils in the UK having at least one electric vehicle is a very promising outlook, according to Intelligent Car Lease. At the end of the report, the company said: “Electric vehicles are still expensive to obtain, even when taking into account government grants and incentives. Therefore many of the local authorities across the UK are presenting themselves as real early adopters; taking up this promising technology at an early stage in its life-cycle.”
It expects even greater uptake as more renewable energy comes onto the grid: “In the UK there is a huge drive to increase renewable energy production (in Scotland there’s a target to make electricity production 100 per cent renewable by 2020). This is making electricity a cleaner form of energy all the time; meaning in a few years from now the benefits of driving an electric powered vehicle will be huge for the environment.”
To see the report, visit tinyurl.com/ord2v6f
Councils wanting to reduce pollution from toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide from traffic on our roads must also consider how compliance can be cost-effectively achieved for the Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and Low Emission Zones (LEZ) that they are currently planning.
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