Electric bin lorries could one day be silently cruising the streets of South Ribble – but the plug-in rubbish removers are not advanced enough to bring them to the borough just yet, councillors have been told.
South Ribble Borough Council is poised to purchase six new waste wagons and has previously committed to creating the “greenest possible fleet” of vehicles.
However, a meeting of the authority’s cabinet heard that bin lorry manufacturers are currently in a “developmental” stage in their electric designs, meaning the council will have to opt for more traditionally-powered options for now. In the meantime, the district has pledged to purchase fuel efficient vehicles which reduce the volume of pollutants they emit.
But even when electric versions of the vehicles are available, the borough will have to build a substation at its waste collection depot in order to keep them on the road.
“You can’t just plug 18 vehicles in [to the mains] and hope that there’s enough electricity to charge them without affecting residents,” said Andrew Richardson, assistant director of neighbourhoods.
“As soon as we can get an electric fleet in place, we will do…but at the moment it would be three times the cost of non-electric vehicles,” he added.
Cllr Paul Foster, leader of the Labour-run authority, acknowledged that a substation alone would be a “substantial investment”.
But he revealed that the council would be adding an “emissions criteria” to the purchasing decisions which it is about to make on the bin lorries and several other vehicles across its fleet – with three tipper trucks, two mini sweepers and a tractor amongst the replacements being sought at a total cost of almost £1.5m.
Price will make up 80 percent of the judgement in each case, with 15 percent determined by quality and five percent related to emissions. The vehicles will also be bought rather than leased – but members were told that decision would not slow down the shift to electric technology once the opportunity arises.
Officers concluded that the borough would benefit from lower costs by buying the vehicles outright – as well as by helping staff deliver a more efficient service.
“We have our own workshop…so if one of our vehicles breaks down, it pulls up outside and can be fixed on the day,” Mr Richardson said.
“With third party [servicing], you usually have to wait until the next day before someone has a look at it – and that has a significant impact on the service we provide to our residents.”