You probably wouldn’t expect to find tractors at the famous curved greenhouses of the Eden Project in Cornwall. But three New Holland TS115A models running on 100% EU standard biodiesel will soon be used to transport visitors around the site on special tractor trains.
Eden says the new fleet will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70%, cut carbon monoxide production in half as well as greatly reduce particulates, compared with the models they supersede.
Currently, however, the biodiesel to run the fleet is being imported from Germany, because UK producers cannot supply the fuel to the EU EN14214 standard. But Eden is putting together a working group to encourage local farmers to grow the rape as well as produce the fuel locally not only for the tractors, but to also run the boilers that heat its famous “Biomes”.
Keith O’Connor, who runs Fleetsolve, an independent sustainable transport consultancy that advises Eden, says that as well as the need to run on 100% biodiesel the tractor selection procedure included a range of other issues, including being built in the UK – if possible.
“In the end only New Holland and one other manufacturer came back saying they could run on blends of more than 95% biodiesel. As well as testing the tractors on site in a range of situations we also carried out our own emissions analysis along with braking efficiency tests. We also monitored the external noise levels,” he adds.
Nearly half of the 1.2m visitors to Eden each year will ride on its tractor trains, which run for 363 days of the year and operate between six and eight hours a day. Reliability and back-up was also important, particularly as one of Fleetsolve’s recommendations was to cut the tractor fleet, but increase the numbers of carriages each tractor tows.
Eden introduced its biodiesel-powered tractor trains alongside the world’s first ecofriendly car show. While working and campaigning for sustainable transport, Eden is also realistic in knowing its location means the vast majority of its visitors arrive by car. But drivers can offset their journey’s carbon production by buying tokens for projects around the world.
Mr O’Connor also helped arrange Eden’s Sexy Green Car Show, which took place in the first two weeks of April. “The idea was to show car drivers a range of options to reduce emissions. Many people think ecofriendly equates to funny looking Noddy cars, but mainstream makers now supply models that run on biodiesel or bioethanol that look just as good, if not better than petrol-fueled models. The new Ford Focus drophead, for example, is a nice looking car that will appeal to image-conscious motorists. “Also, modern, well-designed cars can look good, give high performance and still reduce emissions.”