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First electric refuse vehicle for Chichester District - and the county - will help cut council emissions

The first ever electric refuse vehicle for Chichester District will soon be doing the rounds.

Electric refuse vehicle

The 26-tonne vehicle was delivered to the Chichester District Council's depot at the end of February and will form part of the council's commitment to reducing its carbon emissions.

"We're very excited as this is the first electric refuse vehicle to start operating in West Sussex and is one of two that we have ordered," says Councillor Penny Plant, Chichester District Council's Cabinet Member for Environment. "As a council, our refuse collection fleet is one of our biggest sources of emissions, and as part of our Climate Change Action Plan we agreed that one of our key tasks would be to start the switch from diesel refuse collection vehicles to electric.

"The typical diesel refuse collection vehicle achieves around three to four miles to the gallon, and while an electric refuse vehicle costs almost twice that of a diesel version, we expect that the total costs over the lifetime of the electric vehicles to be similar to diesel, due to their lower running costs.

"These are extremely specialist vehicles and so very powerful batteries are needed to operate them, as the electric vehicles are heavy and they constantly stop and start. They also need huge amounts of power to squash all the waste down. Because they are so specialist, we decided to start off with just two vehicles so that we can get used to maintaining, operating and charging them overnight. It will be a completely new set of processes for us, so we want to ensure that our staff are as confident as possible before looking to introduce more electric vehicles in future."

The new vehicle looks the same as conventional refuse vehicles - the only difference that residents will notice is that it is much quieter. They will be operated across different rounds in the district so that the council gains as much experience as possible. The first vehicle will be on the roads in around three weeks' time once the council's workshop and drivers have been trained to maintain and operate it.

It is expected that the market for this type of electric vehicle will become more established within the next three years, which is when the council will consider switching more of its refuse fleet to electric.

Penny adds: "This work is all part of the council's Climate Emergency Action Plan, which sets out how the council will reduce carbon emissions within its own operations and help local residents, businesses and organisations to reduce their carbon footprint too.

"From investing in electric refuse collection vehicles, working to improve the energy efficiency within council buildings, and increasing tree planting within the district, we are progressing a number of major projects to help reduce carbon emissions within our own work and across the district over the coming months and years."

People can read more about the council's progress with its Climate Emergency Action Plan.

There is also a video of our climate action update (opens new window) highlighting some of the actions that the council has taken to tackle the effects of climate change in the district.

Date of Release: 1 March 2023

Reference: 4208