By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
BRISTOL City Council’s criticised hydrogen ferry scheme has won an award – before it’s even up and running.
Bristol Hydrogen Boats has won the first ever Environmental Innovation of the Year award from the industry website SustainableShipping.com.
The Award recognises Bristol Hydrogen Boats for their “pioneering work to deliver tangible environmental benefits and solutions through the development of the UK’s first hydrogen ferry”.
But local reaction to the scheme wasn’t so warm when it was announced last year.
The Liberal Democrat run authority was repeatedly criticised by opposition parties for deciding to spend £225,000 on the ferry, while having to make the biggest budget cuts in its history.
Although its only emission is water the boat will carry just 12 passengers per journey.
It is set to start operating in Bristol’s harbour this September.
Bristol Hydrogen Boats is a consortium formed between No 7 Boat Trips, the Bristol Packet, and Auriga Energy, and supported by Bristol City Council.
Their award was announced in front of 170 industry experts from across the globe who had gathered to celebrate those companies who have made a significant difference in helping the reduce the carbon footprint of shipping.
Jas Singh, managing director of Auriga Energy and spokesperson for the consortium, said: “We can’t express how delighted we are with the award.
“This is a great boost for the project so early in the process.
“We are grateful to the judges for this award, and especially to Bristol City Council for their vision in enabling this project, particularly in these challenging times. Together, we are involved in creating history with the UK’s first zero-emissions hydrogen ferry to operate in Brunel’s town.
“This is only the beginning of a great new era of sustainable boat and ship operations.”
As an alternative to petrol and diesel engines, hydrogen powered transport impacts significantly less on the environment as they produce no direct emissions.
The only waste product is water.
This would mean a big reduction in air and water pollution, as well as reduced noise.
Councillor Neil Harrison, the city council’s assistant cabinet member for sustainability, said: ““The council is now starting to look at ways of producing hydrogen locally from renewable energy, which would mean a cut in carbon emissions too.
“The hydrogen economy will be a major employer by 2020 and I want to make sure that Bristol is at the chalk face.”