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20 million fund for green vans

A £20 million fund to procure lower carbon vans for use in public sector fleets has been announced by the Department for Transport. The programme will use the public sector’s purchasing power to kickstart the market for lower carbon vans.

Should initial trials be successful, an additional £30 million has been earmarked to be used to develop the programme further.

Jim Fitzpatrick said: “Bringing cleaner, greener vehicles onto the market as soon as possible is a priority for the Government, but we want to direct our efforts where they will have the biggest impact in reducing emissions and tackling climate change.

“Vans account for around 15% of carbon emissions from road transport, but currently there are no mass market low carbon models on offer to the UK van buyer – although the technology to create them exists. By using the public sector’s considerable purchasing power, we aim to give investors and manufacturers confidence in the existence of a market for lower carbon vans, to encourage them to bring them to market more quickly than they would do otherwise. This could have a big impact in cutting carbon emissions on our roads.”

The DfT will shortly issue a competitive tender to appoint a partner organisation with specialist technical and commercial expertise on low carbon vehicles to deliver the programme. The appointment is expected to be made in early 2008.

The £20 million was initially proposed as part of the Low Carbon Transport Innovation Strategy, to speed up the development of low carbon vehicles for the UK market using public sector spending power.

Since the proposal, the Department has engaged with stakeholders to find out how best to direct the money for greatest environmental impact. The bulk of the funding will be used to procure lower carbon vans in the first instance, with smaller demonstrations of lower carbon minibuses, all-electric vans and, potentially, plug-in hybrid cars.

Initial public sector participants are expected to include the Metropolitan Police, Environment Agency, Transport for London, the Royal Mail, HM Revenue and Customs and the Government Car and Despatch Agency. All these organisations have significant vehicle fleets, suitable for fleet demonstration.

The aim is for initial procurements of lower carbon vehicles under the programme to lead to subsequent orders in future, helping to stimulate full market introduction of lower carbon options.

Subject to funding availability, the aim wil be to involve a larger number of public sector organisations in the programme. This could include local authorities, other government bodies, and possibly wider public sector organisations such as schools and hospitals.