Within the BEST project, the County of Somerset has introduced 46 flexifuel cars to public fleets and installed five E85 pumps. However, international media controversy last year about whether biofuel crops are taking land from food crops, made several partners back away from the project.
– It became very difficult for politicians to continue to support it, says Ian Bright, BEST site coordinator in Somerset. The contact with Nottingham as a BEST Friend and that city’s introduction of bioethanol buses was therefore a progress in the challenging situation.
– Nottingham approached us when they were first interested in using bioethanol vehicles as part of their measures to tackle CO2 emissions.
Through the BEST Friends network we could get in contact with other partners and give Nottingham the information they needed. When Somerset organised a national conference in June 2008 on the issue of how to quantify CO2 savings from bioethanol and how local governments can implement biofuel policies, Nottingham City Council participated.
– Their support in coming along to the conference, giving a presentation and telling everyone why they were introducing bioethanol buses was very useful, says Ian Bright.
The conference brought together a number of important actors, including the Local Government Association, British Sugar and the Renewable Fuels Agency, who develop sustainability criteria for biofuels.
Reading Transport, the bus operator in the city Reading, was another participant, who just like Nottingham has introduced bioethanol buses in their fleet. What do you recommend other cities that want to become a BEST Friend?
– First of all, there must be a determination to tackle carbon emissions from transport embedded at policy level. Bioethanol is just one of the things we can do to reduce carbon emissions from transport but looking at alternative transport fuels in volume terms, and in terms of carbon offset per km, it is the biggest one available in Europe and worldwide, says Ian Bright.