Home » Diesel set to disappear from most UK construction sites under new plan

Diesel set to disappear from most UK construction sites under new plan

by Liam Turner
Diggers on a construction site

The use of diesel on the majority of UK construction sites is set to be dramatically reduced, following a new plan published this week by industry leaders.

Over the last year, representatives from across the construction industry have collaborated on the development of the plan – titled ‘Zero Diesel Sites Route Map’ – which forms a key element of the Construction Leadership Council’s CO2nstruct Zero programme to decarbonise the industry.

The launch, which took place on HS2’s Old Oak Common Station construction site in London, was attended by Minister for Industry and Economic Security Nusrat Ghani.

Following consultation on a draft plan late last year, the route map confirms the industry will:

  • Put in place support to roll out hydrogen, electricity, and other cleaner power sources
  • Promote early wins by boosting efficiency and cutting diesel use by existing plant, and asking companies to reduce the use of diesel generators
  • Help businesses to develop their own company’s diesel reduction plans
  • Engag with clients to secure commitments that ban diesel use
  • Track data on industry diesel consumption to confirm progress over time

There are currently an estimated 300,000 items of non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) used by the UK construction sector.

Typically, such plant is powered by diesel consuming 2.5m tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), generating significant carbon emissions.

The route map sets out practical measures to reduce this volume by 78% by 2035, in line with the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget, published in 2021.

Cutting emissions ‘vital’

Minister for Industry and Economic Security Nusrat Ghani said: “Cutting carbon emissions in construction is vital to achieving our net-zero ambitions by 2050.

“That’s why I’m pleased to see the leadership the sector is showing by publishing this new route map, helping us move forward towards a cleaner, greener industrial future.”

Neil Wait, head of Environmental Delivery at HS2 Ltd and chair of the Zero Diesel Route Map Working Group, said: “The carbon challenge we face is significant and can only be overcome if we show real determination in a push for change.

“HS2 Ltd has played a key role in the development of the route map and is already making great progress with 19 diesel-free construction sites on the project.

“Today’s launch is a tangible demonstration of the industry’s shared commitment to radically cut our reliance on diesel.

“I would encourage companies to get involved and support the move towards cleaner, greener construction.”

Matt Palmer, CO2nstruct Zero Programme sponsor and executive director of Lower Thames Crossing, said: “One of the strengths of the Construction Leadership Council is its ability to bring the industry together to identify and commit to actions that will change our sector for the better.

“The Zero Diesel Route Map is a perfect example of this, setting a clear mission that everyone can sign up to support.”

Image: Bertold Werkmann/Shutterstock

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