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£4.2m solar farm beside Waterbeach waste depot will power Greater Cambridge’s bin lorries



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A solar farm is planned beside the waste depot in Waterbeach to help power bin lorries across Greater Cambridge.

The board of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has agreed £2.7million funding towards the the renewable energy plant while approving its budget last week.

Cambridge and South Cambs new electric bin lorry (53603934)
Cambridge and South Cambs new electric bin lorry (53603934)

The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste service - the partnership between South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City Council that collects recycling and rubbish from around 127,000 households - applied for the funding towards the £4.2m project. The councils will fund the balance.

The county’s first electric bin lorry - a Dennie Eagle eCollect - entered service late in 2020 in Greater Cambridge and two more are due to begin work in the area by the end of March.

Smaller electric vans are also operated by the service, which utilises power from solar panels on depot buildings.

But there is insufficient charging capacity in the depot’s local electricity network to meet the needs of the councils’ programme to replace its diesel bin lorries with an electric fleet.

Solar panels
Solar panels

To solve that, the councils plan a solar panel power plant on land adjacent to the depot, along with a battery storage system, charging islands, cabling and associated works to form a smart micro-grid. Planning permission is still required.

Cllr Brian Milnes, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s lead cabinet member for environmental services and licensing, said: “We have a rolling plan to replace our diesel bin lorries with electric-powered vehicles in the years ahead. To do this, we need to ensure our depot has the facilities to charge them – and we are especially keen that the electricity we use to charge our vehicles is clean and renewable. These plans would help us to create a loop whereby our electric bin lorries are powered by green energy, and I’m delighted that the Combined Authority has decided to progress them.”

Cllr Rosy Moore, executive councillor for climate change, environment and city centre at Cambridge City Council, added: “These proposals would allow us to secure a long-term renewable energy supply for a key service that each and every one of us relies upon. It would also help to create local jobs through ongoing maintenance. By switching to electric-bin lorries powered by the sun, we would be drastically reducing our own council's carbon emissions whilst also cleaning up the air that we breathe. It's a really exciting and ambitious project.”

An electric bin lorry at the Waterbeach depot. Clockwise, from left, are Cllr Bill Handley, André Lagendijk, Mick Hill, Geesinknorba UK business director, Trevor Nicoll and Cllr Rosy Moore. Picture: Keith Heppell
An electric bin lorry at the Waterbeach depot. Clockwise, from left, are Cllr Bill Handley, André Lagendijk, Mick Hill, Geesinknorba UK business director, Trevor Nicoll and Cllr Rosy Moore. Picture: Keith Heppell

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, leader of the Combined Authority, added: “I couldn’t be more pleased that Cambridgeshire will be leading the way in introducing sustainability focused improvements to our everyday essential services.

“Reducing our reliance on historical environmentally-unfriendly options allows us to create positive change without affecting the excellent standards we already have in place for waste management. This provides another example of how we are supporting the substitution of green practices into the chain of services that we too often take for granted.”

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Councils unveil first all-electric bin lorry



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