The government and industry have launched a plan to eliminate 78% of diesel machinery from UK construction sites by 2035.
The Zero Diesel Sites Route Map has been developed by the Construction Leadership Council’s s CO2nstruct Zero programme, which aims to decarbonise the industry and support the government’s net-zero targets.
A total of 30 organisations were involved in the plan’s zero diesel sites working group. They included contractors Sir Robert McAlpine, Kier, and Laing O’Rourke, plant hire companies, academia, central government, manufacturers, and representative bodies.
In 2020, the UK construction sector used 2.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent of diesel on sites, emitting huge volumes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which includes CO2 and other greenhouse gases found in machine emissions. The route map identifies alternative technologies and fuels to diesel, including the use of liquefied petroleum gas and hydrogen.
Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani MP, joined industry leaders last week to launch a plan to eliminate the use of diesel from most UK construction sites.
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 diesel reduction plans,
- Engage with clients to secure commitments that ban diesel use and,
- Track data on industry diesel consumption to confirm progress over time.
The UK construction sector currently uses an estimated 300,000 Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) items. Typically, such plant is powered by diesel, consuming 2.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), generating significant carbon emissions.
The Zero Diesel Sites Route Map sets out practical measures to reduce this volume by 78 percent by 2035, in line with the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget published in 2021.
During the route map’s launch at the HS2 site in Old Oak Common, West London, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani, said:
"The document is a key step in the transition towards UK construction becoming the greenest and most sustainable construction sector in Europe. The zero-diesel roadmap sets a cross-industry commitment from manufacturers and plant hire companies to contractors and how the sector can reduce and eventually eliminate the use of diesel in UK construction sites"
Almost all the plant hire at the Old Oak Common site is already diesel-free and major contractors in the sector are following HS2's example.
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