To consider a report on how GFRS aims to achieve the GCC target of net zero carbon by 2030, including the current carbon situation, and actions that will be taken by GFRS going forward.
Mark Hanson, Service Director, Edge Public Solutions, and Adam Godding, Fleet Operations Manager, GCC, introduced the GFRS Net Zero Carbon report, which had been written in collaboration with John Townsend, Corporate Fleet Unit Manager, GCC.
Mark Hanson explained that as a starting point, an assessment of the current GFRS fleet was carried out and a plan was developed which set out at what point a vehicle would need replacing, which would enable financial forward planning.
It was understood that of the GFRS light vehicle fleet, half were Euro 6, which were less polluting, and half were older vehicles, which were more polluting. These would be the focus of immediate replacement, ideally with electric vehicles, however this would be dependent on charging infrastructure.
In terms of the heavy vehicle fleet, it was explained that current opportunities to use electric vehicles would be extremely expensive, and that battery technology improvements over the next five years would provide more of an opportunity for these types of vehicles to be considered in the future.
Members’ attention was drawn to table 5.4 in the report which detailed the current fleet and proposals for their replacement and how much this would save in CO2 emissions.
It was understood that GCC had started to consider the use of greener fuels, such as Hydro Treated Vegetable Oil (HVO). Vehicles would need to be Euro 6 in order to use this type of fuel. As this type of fuel was not in the mainstream, consideration would need to be given as to where it could be stored for use. It was hoped that a further update on this project could be provided to the Committee in six months’ time.
Members were also advised of GCC’s plans for offsetting, as well looking into the use of hydrogen technology, which could be an option for the heavy vehicles. However, it was explained that this would not be available in the short term as the infrastructure was not currently available.
GFRS was currently trialling the use of solar supplementary panels fitted to a vehicle. The results so far seemed promising in terms of reducing emissions and increasing battery life.
Another option being considered was the location of vehicles, such as by spreading pool car use around the County, which would make them more efficient in their use.
It was requested that the total savings on carbon emissions on all vehicles be included in the next progress report.
One member queried whether the use of HVO would save money? In response it was explained that the focus was currently purely on carbon emissions, however at this stage the costs appeared broadly similar, with a caveat on storage and infrastructure.
One member commented on the conundrum being faced by the Council in terms of reducing carbon emissions whilst also being mindful of money.
Another member suggested that as technology advances, the cost of carbon neutral energy production should be cost effective.
A further member stated that a new rolling procurement programme had begun at Cotswold District Council on refuge trucks which would ensure they would be able to get the latest technology in terms of carbon and operationally.
One member sought clarification on one of the statistics in Appendix One of the report, relating to the age of vehicles. In response it was understood that 46 percent of vehicles were over 10 years old.
The Chief Fire Officer added that whilst additional money had been secured from Cabinet to replace fleet vehicles, due to the pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine, delivery on new vehicles could take a significant amount of time.
One member highlighted the importance of ‘yard sticks’ to check progress was being made in terms of carbon reduction.
The Chief Fire Officer explained to the Committee that agreement had been given to implement a new fleet management system which would bring GFRS and GCC up to date, and would provide correct CO2 measurements. Additionally, the new asset management plan, which was to be agreed by Council, would be key in dictating the replacement years for vehicles.
The Lead Cabinet Member added that whilst some of the GFRS vehicles were getting on in age, they were incredibly well maintained, noting that the aerial platform GFRS donated to the Ukraine was 20 years old but looked brand new. He gave credit to the in-house servicing team.
One member commented that whilst the report had looked at GFRS vehicles, it did not consider the carbon emissions of other equipment used by GFRS, such as pumps, as well as energy use. It was requested that these be included in the next progress report to the Committee.
The Committee noted the report.