Leeds Labour Council took a step forward this week in its efforts to improve air quality in the city.

It had already been agreed that the council would work with partners to build and run what could be the country’s biggest compressed natural gas filling station, with a view to also converting the Council’s bin lorry fleet to compressed natural gas.

Compressed natural gas cuts particulate matter – which is very harmful to our health – by almost 100 per cent and nitrogen oxides by around 90 per cent. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by around a quarter.

This week a major funding announcement for Leeds City Council and Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has brought the project closer to reality.

Ofgem has awarded the north of England’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks, working in partnership with Leeds council, £700,000 from its Network Innovation Competition (NIC) – a vote of confidence in the Labour Council’s project to build and run the green fuelling station in Leeds.

The aim is to improve air quality in the city and reduce carbon emissions, with construction due to get underway in 2017 if successful.

There are elections in Leeds on May 5.

Labour is delivering for Leeds. Use your vote to make sure it can continue to do so.

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Compressed natural gas cuts particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide emissions.

But private companies are cautious about investing in compressed natural gas filling stations, because of the high cost of connecting to the gas mains – unless there is an established market. But without a fuelling station, people and businesses who are keen to go green are unable to buy vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. It’s a vicious circle – and this funding will help break out of it.

The council has already agreed to convert its refuse collection fleet to run on compressed natural gas with an investment of £1.58 million over five years to demonstrate to investors that there is a clear, ready-made client and prove the business case.

NGN’s role will be to construct the high pressure pipeline feeding the station.

There’s potential here to use the fuelling station for buses, taxis and other commercial vehicles.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“If we want a cleaner, greener, healthier city we need to create the conditions that will deliver a more sustainable future.

There’s still a long way to go but the funding is a clear signal that our plans, for what could be the UK’s biggest compressed natural gas station, have merit.

“Investing in the conversion of our fleet of 70 bin lorries is just the start. If our long-term plans come to fruition, haulage firms, bus and coach companies and fleets of vans could make the switch too with a ready-made fuelling station and proven business case, making vast improvements to air quality and the environment.”

The project could begin in 2016, with construction starting before the end of 2017. The station will be situated in the Aire Valley within the vicinity of the Leeds Enterprise Zone.

Converting the council’s refuse collection vehicles to run on compressed natural gas will make a significant dent in the council’s emissions.

Five bin wagons already run on liquefied natural gas, and this has already cut harmful emissions – and offered better fuel economy.

The City is already halfway to reaching the carbon cutting targets which the Council has set – a reduction of 40% by 2020.

Action like this – taken to cut emissions – can save money, but it’s also essential to improving the health of all our citizens.

Win, win – which is what you do with a Labour Council.

There are elections in Leeds on May 5.

Labour is delivering for Leeds. Use your vote to make sure it can continue to do so.

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