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Biomethane must be central to UK Clean Air Strategy – ADBA

The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has called on the UK government to make buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) fuelled by biomethane central to its Clean Air Strategy.

A Scania biomethane fuelled bus on show at the UK AD & Biogas 2015.

A Scania biomethane fuelled bus on show at the UK AD & Biogas 2015.

According to the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), a trade association for the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry in the UK, the industry has sufficient capacity today to produce enough biomethane to power the country’s entire bus fleet. Furthermore, the use of biomethane for buses and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) has increased in recent years in response to concerns over the cost of fossil-fuel-based fuels and their negative impact on air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

ADBA’s “call to arms” comes as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Transport jointly published its plan to deliver nitrogen dioxide (NO2) compliance in UK towns and cities, part of a wider Clean Air Strategy due to be published in 2018. The measures unveiled include GBP 255 million of funding for local authorities to crack down on roadside emissions, including from buses and other types of public transport.

Local councils will be required to produce local air quality plans that reduce NO2 levels in the fastest possible time, while local authorities will be able to bid for money from a new Clean Air Fund to support improvements that will reduce the need for restrictions on polluting vehicles. This could include upgrading bus fleets. In May 2017, Nottingham City Transport unveiled a new GBP 17 million double-deck ‘Bio-Gas’ bus fleet, the largest of its kind in the world.

The use of biomethane derived from well-managed feedstocks as vehicular fuel can help to reduce the scandalous levels of air pollution we see in towns and cities across the UK, costing thousands of lives each year. Local authorities reading the government’s air quality plans now have the perfect opportunity to follow the example of Nottingham City Transport and others in rolling out biomethane-fuelled municipal bus fleets, which can make huge improvements to air quality in the UK’s towns and cities, said Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive ADBA in a statement.

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the UK’s Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) here speaking at the European Biogas Association (EBA) conference in September 2016.

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the UK’s Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) here speaking at the European Biogas Association (EBA) conference in September 2016.

The new measures announced also include the right for van drivers to use heavier vehicles if they are electric or gas-powered. In February 2017, Waitrose, the UK-based supermarket major within the John Lewis Partnership, announced that the supermarket group has introduced Europe’s most advanced fleet of biomethane (bio-CNG) powered trucks.

Over the short to medium term, biomethane presents the only practical means of decarbonising HGVs, buses and non-road mobile machinery. While biomethane has the potential to power every HGV in the country and some pioneers have grasped this opportunity, far more support is needed from government to make it easier for others to follow their example. It’s critical that the Government urgently delivers a robust response to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation consultation that concluded in January. Long-term support for AD is crucial for reducing emissions from the difficult-to-decarbonise transport sector and for improving air quality in our cities and towns to save lives, said Morton.

 

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