The Telegraph reports that HS2 generators must switch to 'green diesel', MPs urge

Diesel-powered generators and vehicles are expected to run 24/7 for the next two decades on HS2 construction sites

Image by Bradley Brister

Boris Johnson (R) visits the Solihull Interchange construction site for HS2 in September 2020, credit: The Telegraph

Senior MPs are demanding bosses at HS2 switch to renewable diesel over fears that vast construction sites powered by fossil-fuel generators are undermining the rail project’s green credentials.

HS2 is estimated to use up to 150 million litres of diesel a year to power building sites and heavy construction machinery. Work is scheduled to continue until 2040 at a cost of roughly £100m a week.

Using diesel made from used cooking oils and waste effluent could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90pc and air particulates by up to 85pc, supporters claim.

MPs including Andrea Leadsom, the former business secretary, ex-Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, and Theresa Villiers, minister responsible for HS2 under David Cameron, have written to the Government to support the use of so-called green diesel.

HS2’s green credentials, allowing millions of air and road trips to be switched to rail, was a central to the Government’s decision to give the project the green light a year ago. 

It would produce an estimated 8g of carbon emissions per kilometre, compared with 67g from car journeys and 170g by plane. The advantages have been disputed by other experts, however.

The MPs represent constituencies across three-quarters of HS2’s phase 1 route between London and Birmingham.

They said: “The Government is introducing regulations on the future use of diesel vehicles, a considerable number of them will remain in use on roads and in construction sites well into the next decade and beyond.

“[It] should take the lead by acting now by clearly encouraging and guiding construction companies to use 100pc renewable diesel for publicly funded projects, such as HS2.

“This will help guarantee air quality, reduce pollution and support better respiratory health.”

HS2 projected spending

The renewable diesel, made by companies such as BP-backed Green Biofuels, is around 10-15pc more expensive than standard diesel. 

But the MPs told Mr Shapps that HS2 contractors are typically charging taxpayers an average of £1 a litre for the fuel they use. The cost of switching to a greener alternative could be mitigated by buying in bulk and would ultimately eat into contractors’ profit margins rather than increase the project’s costs, they said.



Original article appears in The Telegraph, Tuesday 26th January 2021