27 October 2021 | Environment

Hertfordshire CC trialling all-electric highways repair sites

In its ongoing mission to create a cleaner, greener and healthier environment, Hertfordshire County Council is trialling all-electric sites, with both plant vehicles and worker facilities powered by electricity.

The first local authority in southern England to trial such projects, the footpath reconstruction sites in Letchworth and Stevenage will use electric and zero emission equipment to carry out resurfacing and repairs.

In collaboration with infrastructure partner Ringway, the county council is using an electric mini-excavator, a breaker and a disc cutter, together with a zero-emission staff welfare unit, on sites in Stevenage (The Willows) and Letchworth (Rookes Close).

The sites will help create a healthier environment for both residents and staff, with significant reductions in carbon emissions, improvements in air quality and lower levels of noise pollution.

The trial will enable the county council to establish the cost and practicality of using electric equipment and is part of its overall commitment to the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy and Action Plan, specifically to be net zero in its operations by 2030 and a net zero county by 2050.

It is part of a wider measurement by the council of the amount of carbon in the products and services that are bought and the development of a strategy to reduce these emissions.

The trial will also look at whether electric equipment and vehicles perform just as well as their fuel-powered counterparts, and benefit from being quieter and less polluting for the workforce who work from a spacious, energy-efficient staff welfare unit, including a rest room, toilets and dry room.

Phil Bibby, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Hertfordshire County Council, said: ‘’I’m delighted that Hertfordshire is the first such trial of an all-electric work site in southern England. It’s a further indication of our commitment to the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy and Action Plan, specifically to be net zero in our own operations by 2030 and a net zero county by 2050.

‘’Creating a cleaner, greener and healthier environment for residents and staff to live and work in is so important. The initial signs are very encouraging, and we look forward to working with Ringway to create even more electric sites in the future.’’

Manjit Basra, who lives in Rookes Close, Letchworth, said: ‘’The team have been working here for four days and we’ve hardly noticed they’ve been here. There have been no fuel smells from the machinery, and we’ve been able to get on with things as normal.’’

Kevin Carrol, Divisional Manager for Ringway said: “By trialling electrical equipment, plant and vehicles for the all-electric site, we have gained invaluable experience in the changes needed to move more sites to this way of operating in the future.

‘’A key aspect of this way of working is the recharging of the larger equipment and the benefits it brings to the environment. The reduction in noise and the lack of exhaust fumes while on site was noticeable. The welfare facility was of particular interest as it generated its own power via solar cells and stored this on site.

‘’We continue to work collaboratively with Hertfordshire County Council, combining expertise from both organisations. The latest project to open is more environmentally friendly office accommodation in South Mimms, again incorporating solar panels which feed back into the operation of the office.”

The electric site is part of a series of sustainable initiatives being progressed within the county; these include using battery powered tools in the grass cutting teams and the in-house tree surgeon team using battery-powered cutting equipment.

Smaller fleet vehicles are being replaced with electric models when being renewed and there is an ongoing drive to reduce construction waste by trialling more sustainable materials.

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