West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair, Cllr Keith Wakefield, welcomed guests to the launch of the ECO Stars fleet recognition scheme at Elland Road, this week.
The Combined Authority and West Yorkshire’s five district councils are working with local commercial fleet operators in ECO Stars, which aims to improve air quality on local roads.
ECO Stars is a free, voluntary scheme that provides recognition, guidance and advice on operational best practice to operators of goods vehicles, buses, coaches and commercial vehicle fleets. It is being delivered by transport consultants TRL, on behalf of the authorities.
At the launch event, Councillor Wakefield presented certificates recognising their initial star ratings to Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield council fleets, Bradford and Leeds Teaching Hospitals and commercial fleet operators JG Pears and DHL.
Councillor Wakefield, said: “Our City Region is key to the North’s and the nation’s success and West Yorkshire Combined Authority and its partners are committed to unlocking the Leeds City Region’s full economic potential and make it the low-carbon ‘growth engine’ for the North.
“ECO Stars work has an important role to play in helping us to achieve our aims, which include a Low Emission Strategy and a Clean Air Zone for Leeds and a modern bus fleet that has a positive impact on health and environment with all vehicles meet at the latest environmental standard.
“We look forward to working with ECO Stars and our transport industry partners to achieve these ambitious targets.”
Ann Beddoes, ECO Stars Schemes Manager, from Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that West Yorkshire have joined the ECO Stars network and wish them every success in their drive to reduce air pollution.
“We hope that West Yorkshire’s fleet operators will take full advantage of this opportunity to make a difference to their local environment while at the same time improving their bottom line.”
The ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme was originally set up in South Yorkshire, in 2009, when local councils wanted to tackle local air quality issues caused by transport. Seven years later ECO Stars has gone from strength to strength, with 23 schemes in the UK and several more in Europe.
Paul Matthews, Managing Director of First West Yorkshire, said: “We’re proud to be a new member of the ECO Stars scheme, and to be working in partnership with the other large bus operators in West Yorkshire, to drive down emissions.
“We operate a fleet of 885 vehicles, and we therefore have a duty to ensure that we’re reducing our impact on the local environment. More recently we have introduced Euro 6 buses to the popular commuter X84 service, which have been introduced to help towards reducing CO2 emissions along the route; particularly the A660 in Headingley, which is noted for being a high pollution area.
“We are continuing to invest and upgrade our vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions, and customers will start to see our new ECO Star ratings added to the side of our vehicles, which will demonstrate the efficiency of our vehicles.”
Alex Hornby, Chief Executive Officer at Transdev, added: “At Transdev, we passionately believe in the two key elements of this important project – partnership with our local authorities alongside fellow, like-minded bus operators, and improving our local environment. We are investing millions in the latest, low-emission buses accompanied by the highest customer-centric specification that will help take public transport in West Yorkshire into a very exciting and sustainable future.”
Nigel Featham, Regional Managing Director at Arriva Yorkshire, said: “As a bus operator we have a responsibility for the environment. We are looking forward to working with the local authority and other West Yorkshire bus operators to improve the local environment.”