NEW low-carbon, battery-powered gardening equipment has been bought by the city council to help advance Leicester’s response to the climate emergency, as well as to improve air quality.
The city council has invested nearly £69,000 in seven new battery-powered mowers, plus nine further items of equipment including a strimmer, leaf-blower, hedge cutters and an electric sports line marking machine.
They are all being tried out on the city’s public parks and open spaces. If they prove successful, then the council hopes to phase out its current fleet of around 450 petrol and diesel-fuelled mowers.
The mowers join three specialised electric mowers bought in 2015, when commercial-grade electric machinery first started to reach the market. These are used to cut steep or rough embankment areas.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “We have bought these mowers to use on our bowling greens around the city, and to cut grass verges on highways and housing estates.
“We’re bringing them into use now, as the mowing season begins, and at the end of the season we will look at how effective they’ve been and their carbon impact.
“We’re conducting this trial to confirm whether electric battery-powered mowers have been developed to a standard suitable to replace our petrol and diesel-fuelled equipment. If they have, we hope to start a replacement programme.”
Cllr Clarke said: “We’re facing a climate emergency. It’s vital that we do all we can – as a council and as a city – to reduce our carbon emissions.
“We have committed to developing a plan to achieve net zero emissions as quickly as possible. We recently consulted widely on actions we’ll need to take and as a result decarbonising our garden equipment will feature in the final plan.”
Annual petrol savings from just three of the mowers bought so far will be 3,285 litres, which would have produced over 7,250kgs or 0.7 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. That’s roughly equivalent to 30 car trips from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
As well as emission savings, the new mowers will be cheaper to run than their petrol counterparts, costing only 6p an hour to charge overnight on a standard plug socket. Once fully charged they can mow for up to seven hours.
Electric mowers also have further advantages – they are much quieter than petrol models, they have lower vibration levels, which is better for the staff who operate them, and they have lower maintenance costs.
This project is one of a new raft of measures being developed by the council in response to the climate emergency. A new action plan is currently being put together in response to the recent consultation: Leicester’s Climate Emergency Conversation.