Plans to turn Reading Borough Council (RBC) vehicles green, including switching to cargo bikes and e-bikes, have been approved.

The three-year fleet replacement programme, which will cost an estimated £7 million, aims to support the council’s ambition to move towards net zero by 2030.

As one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that the council has control over, this is an essential move for the council to reach its Climate Emergency targets.

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Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Environment, Planning and Transport, added: “The industry is relatively new and so balancing what is available on the market with our own needs is a challenge but I believe we have got a good programme.”

The programme does not aim to replace vehicles on a like-for-like basis.

The council will assess whether service needs can be met in a different way, such as reducing vehicle sizes or using electric bikes or cargo bikes,

Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, lead member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “Officers will be looking at where transport can be achieved in a different way.

We’re looking at active travel, public transport, cargo bikes and so on.

“It’s not automatically swapping out a petrol vehicle for an electric vehicle when there is another way of achieving that.

“And I really welcome that because just swapping fossil vehicles for the same number of electric vehicles is not going to be enough globally to tackle the Climate Emergency so it’s fantastic that Reading is leading on that.”

RBC declared a Climate Emergency in February 2019 before developing a carbon plan for the following five years (2020-25) which includes targets to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 85 per cent by 2025 and reduce fossil fuel use by 50 per cent by 2025.

READ MORE: Reading Borough Council declares climate emergency

The Diesel fleet currently makes up 16 per cent of RBC’s corporate carbon footprint and the council says both targets are heavily dependent on replacing fossil-fuel powered vehicles, particularly refuse collection vehicles, to electric vehicles.

The council also committed to play ‘as full a role as possible’ and ‘lead by example’ in achieving a carbon neutral Reading by 2030, with the caveat that the Government must ‘accept its moral and ethical responsibilities’ and give Reading as soon as possible the additional powers and funding needed to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Over the past decade, just three per cent of RBC’s carbon savings have been achieved via reducing the carbon of council vehicles.

Under the new Carbon Plan, more than a quarter of savings will need to come from reducing RBC’s vehicle emissions, with more than half of these to come from electrification of the fleet.

RBC has been assisted by the Energy Savings Trust, drawing on its expertise in finalising the plans.