Gatwick airport has switched its fleet of diesel vehicles to run on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), in a move which it says will save 950 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

The London airport had around 300 vehicles including fire engines, airside operations vehicles and snow ploughs which were being powered by diesel.

These account for around 85 per cent of Gatwick’s fleet, and all of them will now be powered by HVO until they are retired and replaced by electric vehicles.

The airport said that the move would reduce its Scope 1 (those directly produced / controlled by a company) vehicle emissions by 90 per cent.

Gatwick stressed that “An extensive trial concluded that HVO had no impact on the performance of the vehicles, meaning the fire engines still have the capability to respond to call outs anywhere on the airfield within three minutes”.

The move is part of the airport’s commitment to be net zero for Scope 1 and 2 (the latter being emissions indirectly produced when the company purchases energy) by 2030.

To this end Gatwick is investing £250+ million to replace all vehicles, gas boilers and refrigerants with low carbon alternatives, as well as investing in on-site renewable energy including solar power.

The airport said it is also working with airlines and industry partners to tackle Scope 3 emissions (ie: those further down the supply chain), “through a range of measures including airspace modernisation and innovations in SAF, electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft”.

Commenting on the news Steve Kelso, head of engineering, London Gatwick, said:

“The implementation of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil to power our 300 diesel vehicles is an exciting milestone for London Gatwick’s sustainability journey and a big step in our fleet transition. It is vital we invest in sustainably sourced HVO to reduce emissions in all areas as soon as possible on our journey to reach net zero for our own Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030.

“From the buses that pick passengers up from the long-stay car parks, to operations vehicles that patrol the airfield, HVO is now being used to fuel vehicles throughout the airport. As we continue to grow, we are making sustainability part of everything we do here at London Gatwick and we are committed to finding solutions and working differently to meet our ambitious targets.”

Last month Gatwick opened a dedicated electric vehicle (EV) charging station, located on the ring road near the South Terminal.

The GRIDSERVE facility has 30 high-power and low-power electric vehicle chargers, which are available 24 hours a day via contactless payment.

Electric vehicle charging station opens at Gatwick