COUNCIL chiefs have hailed the approval of a green hydrogen filling station at Ansa's environmental hub in Middlewich.

As reported by the Guardian on Saturday, Cheshire East Council's planning department has given the go-ahead for the compound to be built at the Cledford Lane site.

The council is working with King Street-based firm Storengy on the pioneering project, which will see an initial two bin wagons and one Storengy vehicle be converted to run on both diesel and hydrogen, after £1 million funding for the scheme was secured earlier this year.

Cllr Nick Mannion, cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: "We are committed to reducing our own emissions and becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

"The approval of planning permission for this scheme is an exciting step towards achieving that target.

“This will reduce the council’s and Storengy’s diesel use by more than 10,000 litres per year."

The scheme is funded by both public and private sector money – with a £345,000 grant from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund.

It will be the first green hydrogen fuelling facility in the north west, and will produce hydrogen by using an electrolyser connected to solar panels, making it even more environmentally friendly.

Cllr Quentin Abel, CEC's climate change champion, said: "This trial using hydrogen is important as hopefully it will prove suitable for our heavier and long-range vehicles, making it an alternative to diesel for our refuse vehicles as they deliver their services across our borough.

“The green hydrogen will be produced in an environmentally friendly way at the depot through renewable energy, also removing the need for fuel to be transported onto site.

“Moving to cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen, will help towards combatting the increasing climate change crisis. It will also bring benefits locally through improved air quality – another strategic goal of our environment strategy.”

In the planning application, CEC and Storengy said they hoped to have the station up and running 'by early 2021'.

Michael Gibson, managing director of Storengy, added: "With planning permission now granted, we are one step further in demonstrating that hydrogen is viable green fuel for transport.

"We are really excited to be leading on this project to develop the first of its type in the UK, and to be supporting improvements for CEC's carbon footprint and air quality.

“As a business with many employees from Middlewich, it is also great to be investing in, and supporting, one of our local communities.”