Gatwick cuts its diesel vehicle emissions by 90%

Posted on 12 March, 2024 by Advance 

London Gatwick has cut carbon emissions from its own (scope 1) diesel vehicles by 90% by swapping the fuel for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).
Image courtesy Gatwick Airport / VINCI Airports

The switch means London Gatwick will save more than 950 tonnes of carbon emissions per annum.

HVO is a low-carbon biofuel made from plant waste, oils and fats making it a more sustainable and lower-carbon alternative to diesel.

All 300 diesel vehicles, 85% of London Gatwick’s fleet, are now powered by HVO until they are retired from use. They will then be replaced by electric vehicles as part of the airport’s sustainability policy, Decade of Change.  

Some of the vehicles that are now powered by HVO include all the airport’s fire engines, airside operations vehicles and snow ploughs. 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.  

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.”

In 2023, London Gatwick accelerated its commitment to be net zero for its own Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030, 10 years ahead of its previous commitment. The airport will invest £250+ million to replace all vehicles, gas boilers and refrigerants with low carbon alternatives. Gatwick will also continue to reduce overall energy use, invest in on-site renewable energy, including solar power, and continue to source 100% renewable electricity.

The move to HVO is a small but important step for London Gatwick and part of much wider and ambitious plans to also address Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, which account for the largest impact at the airport.  

The UK Government – through its Jet Zero strategy – and the UK industry – through Sustainable Aviation – have a plan for aviation to reach net zero by 2050. London Gatwick is working with airlines and industry partners to tackle Scope 3 emissions. This will be achieved through a range of measures including airspace modernisation and innovations in SAF, electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft.  

London Gatwick has recently achieved Level 4+ ‘Transition’ of the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme - the only institutionally-endorsed, global carbon management certification programme for airports. 

London Gatwick is investing in its long-term future and its planning application to bring the airport’s existing Northern Runway into routine use, has now entered the examination phase with the Planning Inspectorate. This low-impact plan will improve resilience, reduce delays and provide a significant boost to the national and regional economy by supporting trade, tourism and new jobs.