Anger at council diesel fleet deal

City emissions rose between 2011 and 2012. Picture: Jon Savage
City emissions rose between 2011 and 2012. Picture: Jon Savage
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ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have slammed plans to replace the city’s fleet of cars and vans with the “same old” diesel technology.

A deal with French giant Peugeot would see the city buy 268 vehicles – including three-door cars, five-door hatchbacks and large vans – at a cost of nearly £3 million.

But the move has come under attack after it emerged there were no detailed proposals for ensuring new cars are hybrid, electric or powered by alternative energy.

And it was unveiled as figures indicated total emissions across Edinburgh rose between 2011 and 2012 – from just over 2780 to nearly 3000 kilotonnes.

The city is currently working towards a target of achieving a 42 per cent reduction in its carbon emissions by 2020.

Transport chiefs said an alternatively fuelled fleet would mean a “significant” cost increase, but stressed future purchases were not ruled out.

However, critics said the lack of an early commitment to non-diesel vehicles was “astonishing”.

Councillor Nigel Bagshaw, transport spokesman for the city’s Greens, said: “The council needs to pause before taking a four-year decision which locks us into vehicles running on the same old technology.

“Edinburgh desperately needs to tackle air pollution, from burning petrol or diesel through, for example, looking at hybrid or electric vehicles.

“If the city council cannot show a lead, how can we expect businesses and residents to rise to that challenge?”

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The council previously committed to promoting plug-in electric vehicles in its own fleet so it is disappointing that it is on track to miss an opportunity to invest in the cleanest possible fleet.”

Business chiefs said that while purchase prices may be higher, savings could be made through lower running costs.

The motors are to be purchased in the first phase of a five-year replacement programme and used for a wide range of duties.

Kenneth Young, finance director of Edinburgh Computer Services, which uses a fully electric van and a plug-in electric and petrol car, said: “A full charge costs roughly £2 to £5, giving you a range of about 55 to 65 miles, compared to the same in a diesel van costing £10 to £15. There are fewer mechanical components ensuring servicing costs would be lower.”

City leaders said they would meet with Scottish Government staff to assess how the number of electric vehicles in their 1170-strong fleet could be boosted. And they stressed the replacement programme was aimed at ensuring “value for money, effective usage and lower maintenance costs”.

A spokeswoman added: “The first 268 vehicles to be replaced as part of the five-year programme will also be Euro V compliant, improving air quality and significantly reducing our carbon footprint.”