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Swale council in joint bid for cash to get electric bus amid climate emergency

People could soon be travelling around the borough on an all-electric bus.

A joint bid by Swale council and bus firm Arriva for £334,518 has been put in to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The move could be made to an electric bus, if funding is granted. Picture: Getty
The move could be made to an electric bus, if funding is granted. Picture: Getty

It would be used to buy an electric bus to serve the 333 and 334 routes from Faversham to Sittingbourne and Sheerness to Maidstone.

The revelation comes in the first annual progress report since the council declared a climate and ecological emergency in June.

Members voted unanimously to set a target to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the council by 2025 and across the whole borough by 2030.

The update was presented at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday at Swale House in East Street, Sittingbourne.

Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Tim Valentine (Green) said: “This is a bid to Defra to get an electric bus, so this is dependant on funding.

Swale council cabinet member for environment, Cllr Tim Valentine (Green). Picture: Swale council
Swale council cabinet member for environment, Cllr Tim Valentine (Green). Picture: Swale council

“The bus will serve the areas where we have Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).”

The AQMAs are East Street and St Paul’s Street in Sittingbourne, and the A2 through Newington, Teynham and Ospringe.

In November, Defra approved a five-year plan for the council to target the five AQMAs, where levels of pollution exceed guidelines.

“If we get the funding for it, the bus will replace one with a diesel engine,” added Cllr Valentine.

“A problem we have in this area is that a lot of the buses we have running in Swale are quite old diesel vehicles which contribute mostly to the problem of air quality.

'If we get the funding for it, the bus will replace one with a diesel engine' - Cllr Tim Valentine (Green)

"This is something we need to take forward as an emergency everywhere – we all need to do it.”

An Arriva spokesman said: “We can confirm we are in a joint bid alongside Swale council for funding for electric vehicles to operate on the 333 and 334 routes. This is part of our commitment to reduce emissions.”

The report to the Full Council sets out a number of environmentally-friendly schemes under consideration.

A steering group of councillors and council officers has been set up and meets regularly.

The Carbon Trust has been brought in to assess the council’s estate and develop a plan, set to be presented to the council this April.

Swale House in East Street, Sittingbourne
Swale House in East Street, Sittingbourne

The council will do an audit of its single-use plastics. It will replace plastic envelopes used to post council papers with compostable bags suitable for foodwaste bins.

There are plans to install solar panels at Swale House and consider the roll-out of electric vehicles for the council’s fleet for environment wardens to use.

Chargers for electric vehicles have been installed in some council-owned car parks with more planned for Rose Street, Sheerness, in summer 2020.

Janet Hill, climate change officer, said the Government had confirmed that declaration of a climate emergency would be “a material consideration for planning”.

A fuel and water poverty outreach service has been developed to help vulnerable people reduce bills and carbon emissions.

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