Waitrose is taking part in a large-scale study of low-carbon alternatives to diesel, with close to 60 dedicated gas trucks part of the trial.

As part of the trial, CNG Fuels is opening a renewable biomethane refuelling station in Northampton, which is near Waitrose’s headquarters.

The station will be used by a new Waitrose fleet of 58 compressed natural gas trucks (CNG), engaged in long-haul, inter-city and urban runs. They will also be using the base to refuel for local runs.

The trial comprises of six zero-emission refrigeration units powered by the truck’s gas engine too.

The CNG public access refuelling station will open this autumn at the Red Lion Truck Stop, off junction 16 of the M1, close to Magna Park, Milton Keynes – one of the UK’s largest distribution parks, where Waitrose and John Lewis have their national distribution hub.

The station will be able to refuel more than 350 trucks a day.

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Waitrose has helped pioneer CNG in the UK, launching Europe’s most advanced CNG trucks last year.

Justin Laney, general manager central transport at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We’re committed to reducing the emissions from our fleet. This study will help us quantify not just the carbon emissions reduction of using biomethane, but also the benefits of using our industry- leading clean refrigeration equipment which we expect to show significant benefits for air quality.”

Academics from the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight at Cambridge University will compare the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of the CNG trucks with diesel equivalents in a range of settings. The trial is set to finish in September 2019.

The project has been funded from the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles in partnership with Innovate UK.