In a bid to reduce its carbon consumption and to improve air quality, the city council has spent nearly £69,000 on seven battery-powered mowers, plus nine further items of equipment including a strimmer, leaf-blower, hedge cutters and an electric line marking machine for sports pitches.
They are all being tried out on the city’s public parks and open spaces and if they do a good enough job, the council intends to phase out its current fleet of around 450 petrol and diesel-fuelled mowers.
The battery-powered 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 Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “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.”
He added: “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 more than 7,250 kg of carbon emissions per year.
The council also calculates that the new mowers will be cheaper to run than petrol ones, costing only 6p an hour to charge overnight on a standard plug socket. Once fully charged they can mow for up to seven hours.
Other expected benefits include lower vibration levels in electric equipment and lower maintenance costs.