South Derbyshire District Council is making real changes to reduce its carbon emissions. The latest in a series of significant measures to achieve the council’s carbon reduction target is the agreement to trial the use of dual fuelled hydrogen-powered refuse vehicles.

In April, councillors approved a £700,000 trial which involves purchasing two new refuse vehicles and close collaboration and support from ULEMCo, an expert in hydrogen, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd.

This trial will test the performance efficiency of these new hydrogen/diesel refuse vehicles which includes the temporary siting of a mobile hydrogen refuelling point at Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, Burnaston where the two vehicles will be based.

One vehicle will be deployed to carry out commercial bin collections and the other will follow a residential route which will allow the new vehicles to be assessed.

The council’s existing fleet currently generates an estimated 818 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and this trial will support the transition to low carbon vehicles, which will significantly reduce emissions, along with the purchase of electric vehicles where appropriate.

Measures such as this are why the council’s efforts were recognised by Climate Emergency UK in its assessment of UK local authorities’ climate and environment action plans earlier this year: South Derbyshire District Council’s Climate and Environment Action Plan 2021-2030 achieved a 70% rating, above the 43% average for district and borough councils, and is the highest scoring district council in the East Midlands.

South Derbyshire declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 with the intention to make the council carbon neutral by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality across the geographical area of South Derbyshire before the Government target of 2050.

One of the key aims in the council’s Corporate Plan is ‘Keeping a clean, green District for future generations’ and one of the key actions is to tackle climate change. The council has recently been accredited with the ISO140001 standard for the 12th year in a row.

Twenty-five electric vehicle (EV) charging points have also been installed in council-owned car parks to encourage electric vehicle ownership over the last year and further funding has been received to install an additional 16 EV charging points, and a review has been carried out to identify future potential EV charging points.

The council has a target of achieving 60% recycling and composting in South Derbyshire by 2024 and the waste collection service has been reviewed to ensure this target is achievable. South Derbyshire is one of only three national pilots to provide a facility to recycle coffee pods at the kerbside in partnership with Podback, a consortia of coffee pod manufacturers.

South Derbyshire is the fastest growing district in the county and, as a result, officers have also spent time working with local businesses to promote low carbon business practices. To date 35 businesses have been visited to promote and support the transition to low carbon emissions.

To support community awareness of climate change, the council has commissioned the Carbon Literacy Project to deliver a series of free workshops across South Derbyshire. So far 22 people across eight parish councils have taken up the invitation to increase their understanding of climate change and obtain their carbon literacy certificate.

Although it is good that the council’s efforts so far have been recognised, making progress and tackling the climate crisis is something that will remain a key priority in the years to come.