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Green fleet transition faces financial roadblock

Costs of replacing a council's 41 diesel waste vehicles with electric or hydrogen models have proved prohibitive, councillors have heard.

West Devon Borough Council's annual fleet budget would buy just over half of a hydrogen waste lorry, according to figures discussed at an overview and scrutiny committee.

Deputy chief executive Steve Mullineaux said an electric mini-road sweeper alone would consume half of the yearly budget at £250,000, compared with its diesel counterpart’s price tag of £90,000.

A standard diesel refuse vehicle is £160,000 compared with £460,000 for an electric version, and hydrogen alternatives escalated the cost even further, councillors were told.

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The switch to electric would also require a £500,000 depot upgrade for charging facilities, with vehicles needing recharging after about 100 miles, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

The vast majority of the fleet would have to remain diesel, but as technology progresses, prices would come down and some smaller vehicles could be swapped as they came to the end of their life, Mr Mullineaux said.

The overview and scrutiny committee heard that using the more environmentally friendly waste lorries had not been proven to cope well with very rural areas.

Mr Mullineaux said: "Exeter has been using electric and has been struggling."

He said a bid had been put in for government funds to buy a hydrogen vehicle for South Hams District Council, which shares services with West Devon.

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