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UK’s Transport Minister calls for Technology & Innovation to help cut transport emissions

UK’s Transport Minister Rosie Winterton told a conference of national transport operators in Sheffield (10th March) that the UK’s transport system can make a major contribution to cutting CO2 emissions, with the help of innovative lower carbon technologies.

In keynote speech at the Yorkshire Green Fleet event, the Minister, who is also Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber, said the government wants to encourage the development of cutting edge technology and be seen as a world leader in reducing carbon emissions.

She said: "Tackling carbon emissions from transport remains a challenging issue. For the sake of generations to come we need to research, develop and rapidly adopt low carbon transport technologies.

"The Government has an important role to play by supporting the development of new, cleaner technologies – and we are already making progress in a number of ways."

In her speech, the Minister highlighted a number of sustainable transport projects already underway in Yorkshire and the Humber. These include:

* A project between Sheffield Community Transport and Cenex to develop a low-carbon minibus for community transport

* A partnership between Optare in Leeds and Traction Technology Ltd to develop a hybrid bus vehicle with significantly improved carbon performance. It is hoped to get this into mass production standard within the next 12 months.

* A number of local authorities across Yorkshire are looking at how they can use biomethane for their own fleets

In addition, Sheffield City Council has been recognised for its work to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality by being awarded Beacon Status in 2007 for "delivering cleaner air". Initiatives in the city include:

* The South Yorkshire Care4Air campaign – an awareness raising campaign highlighting air quality issues and encouraging practical action to reduce emissions

* Sheffield Air Map – an interactive website recording and disseminating air quality data

* Sheffield Council are also considering a trial of new electric smart vehicles for use as part of their local authority fleet

Rosie Winterton said support for the development of greener vehicle technologies is expanding. This includes at least £30 million for a new Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform to support leading edge research and development projects within the UK. The Department for Transport is also providing funding to the new Energy Technologies Institute to develop low carbon transport.

She said private sector fleets such as supermarkets, hauliers and delivery services also have an important role to play. Improved environmental performance could result in reduced fuel costs.

Efforts are also underway to improve the carbon performance of new passenger cars – the UK is supporting mandatory EU targets for vehicle fuel efficiency and Vehicle Excise Duty and company car tax regimes have been strengthened to encourage the purchase of cleaner vehicles.

The Green Fleet event has been organised by Sheffield City Council and Cenex, the UK’s Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies.

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