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Green drive sees LED lights and electric council vans
Thursday 8th November 2018 @ 09:25 by Lauren Entwistle
Community Tameside

A drive to transform Tameside into a greener borough will see thousands of street lights swapped for energy saving lanterns and council vans replaced with electric vehicles.

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

The town hall has been rolling out a huge scheme to replace lamps across the borough and has committed £5m to upgrade all lighting on residential streets to LED.

The executive cabinet has now agreed to push forward with the second phase of the project which will see 7,500 lanterns along main roads replaced, at a total cost of £3.6m.

It is estimated that the lower energy lights will provide massive savings for the authority’s budget, and they will pay for themselves within 13 years.

Council vehicles are also to be swapped for electric alternatives in a bid to make the authority greener and more sustainable.

A proposal to replace around 10pc of the town hall’s fleet with new vehicles at a cost of £316,114 has been approved by the executive cabinet.

The auto-mobiles are currently used across pest control, libraries, digital, and messenger services.

Ian Saxon, director of operations and neighbourhoods, told members the LED project would pay for itself.

He said: “The product has got a 25 year guarantee and it’s likely to be paid back within that time frame.”

“It’s the right thing to do environmentally.”

Each lantern costs upwards of £149, and there is a minimum installation fee of £45 each, but this can increase if there is difficult access or extra traffic management requirements.

But they are expected to last around 25 years – as opposed to the current bulbs which fail and need to be replaced within just six years.

Switching to LED will deliver revenue savings of £274,375 a year, officers say, and the scheme is therefore deemed as ‘business critical’ due to the potential savings.

The report presented to cabinet states: “The use of LED technology is fundamental in order for the council to achieve its savings targets by reducing energy consumption and associated costs.

“Energy prices are likely to increase in the future requiring additional corporate support.

“The fact that other councils are employing this technology and taking more drastic measures will reduce demand which is only likely to drive the cost of raw energy up further.

“The availability of a new generation of LED technology increases the attraction in terms of cost savings and serious consideration of replacing the remaining main road lanterns needs to be made.”

It was also recommended that nine of the council’s 16 vehicles that need to be replaced, and swapped for ‘ultra low emission vehicles’, specifically electric vehicles.

Mr Saxon told members that they had made the decision in 2016 to extend the use of 16 vehicles by up to two years beyond their original expected lifespan.

These are now in ‘urgent need of replacement’ according to officers.

While the purchase price of an electric vehicle is almost double its diesel counterpart – £14,481 to £8,714 – over a five year period an electric vehicle costs around £1,400 less than a diesel vehicle.

The plan is to buy 14 vehicles outright from an earmarked reserve, and to tender for a new contract hire for the remaining two vehicles.

And 16 charging points will need to be created, which will be located at Dukinfield cemetery, Stalybridge Civic Hall, and Tame Street. The installation costs will total £19,280.

Mr Saxon told members they wanted to replace diesel with electric ‘where possible’.

He said: “It’s not possible in every case because the market isn’t actually as mature as we would like, but certainly with the smaller vehicles and those ones used by the community response service.

“There are some significant savings. So the electric vehicle is more expensive to purchase up front but then the running costs, it’s smaller, so over the life of the vehicle there are some savings.”

Council leader Brenda Warrington queried whether electric versions of large service vehicles, such as refuse wagons, were not available to buy.

Mr Saxon replied: “The manufacturers are not actually at the level of production that we would like but we anticipate them catching up because there is very clearly a gap in the market, particularly with medium sized light goods vehicles or transit sized vehicles – we can’t identify a supply at the moment.

“At the moment heavy goods vehicles are not available at all, and there is only one electric refuse vehicle in the country somewhere that everyone is clamouring to try out but the technology is emerging technology, at some point it will become available.”

The council currently operates a varied fleet of 164 vehicles of varying types from vans to refuse vehicles to provide its numerous services to the borough’s residents.

Cabinet member Coun Oliver Ryan said the investments were a ‘good thing’, adding: “In all these cases, they are all spend to save.

“It’s more environmentally friendly to replace them with electric ones, and that’s a positive thing that we’ve put forward.”