Low carbon project encourages small and medium enterprises to make ‘green’ choices
Off the roads and on to rail: about 30,000 containers are likely to be transported in a ‘greener’ way over the next three years, thanks to a unique low-carbon project launched in Suffolk on 8 March 2012.
The £7.5 million Low Carbon Freight Dividend project, created by the Haven Gateway Partnership, was officially launched in Felixstowe by Baroness Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Lord Tony Berkeley, chairman of the UK’s Rail Freight Group, gave the keynote speech at the launch ceremony.
The project has secured nearly £3 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund and is designed to encourage small and medium sized enterprises in the East of England to make important changes in their transport choices. Small and medium enterprises eligible for the scheme will be offered a Low Carbon Freight Dividend (grant) of up to 30% for moving their freight from truck to train, where traditionally they have only used road transport.
Significant environmental benefits are promised; the project is expected to remove at least 11.7 million kgs of carbon dioxide from the logistics supply chain, 7.3 million kgs in the East of England, and 4.4 million kgs in the rest of the UK. The associated environmental benefits, using Defra calculations, would be nearly £3.5 million.
“The carbon reduction achieved through this project will be significant within the East of England and, by taking freight off the roads, the project will deliver direct economic benefits to the region,” said project manager Lisa Brazier.
“This is the first scheme to offer small and medium enterprises support for trying rail for the first time – an initiative that we believe will be very much welcomed by companies wanting to make more environmentally friendly choices in the current economic climate.”
Rail Freight Group chairman Tony Berkeley said: “This is a really creative and fantastic scheme to encourage smaller firms to use rail freight for their container transport inland from the Haven ports. It will widen the interest in rail freight and demonstrate to them and their customers just how effective rail freight can be and the benefits, in time, cost and carbon reduction, that it can deliver.
“It will also demonstrate to Government and industry just how much of a contribution containers by rail can make to its target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. I look forward to seeing a strong take-up of this imaginative scheme.”
The Haven Gateway has already received a high level of interest and very positive response to the scheme, said Lisa Brazier, with more than 20 small and medium enterprises attending the official launch meeting.
“We have worked hard to make applying for the scheme as simple and streamlined as possible; we are keen to get companies to sign up, and we understand that people running small and medium sized enterprises are busy and can’t spend hours on complicated application processes,” she added.
Communities Minister Baroness Hanham CBE said: “I am delighted to be launching the Low Carbon Freight Dividend project. The timing of this unique and innovative scheme is perfect, as all retailers, including global brands, high street shops and major supermarket groups, look for ways of reducing the carbon footprint of their supply chains.”
“Growing public awareness of ‘green’ issues is putting increasing pressure on transport and logistics managers to seek out the most environmentally friendly options for moving their freight. The Haven Gateway is to be congratulated on creating a project that will support Small and Medium Enterprises in taking another look at their transport choices and making a positive change in support of the environment.”
A key part of the project will be the Containerised Cargo Carbon Calculator, an online tool developed by the Haven Gateway as a partner within the EU-funded Dryport project. The Carbon Calculator (www.ccccalculator.co.uk) offers a user-friendly website where logistics operators can compare and contrast cargo movement methods (road, rail and water) and the carbon emissions for each method.
Low Carbon Freight Dividend project will also include a series of ‘Optimisation of Freight Movements’ workshops, providing advice, guidance and practical examples of how to reduce carbon emissions in the movement of freight, including loading techniques, better driving techniques and fuel efficiency.
In addition, the project will include a Low Carbon Transport Marketing Package, enabling small and medium enterprises to market their services as carbon friendly and thus attract new customers.