Representatives from two Government departments have visited Sheffield to learn more about the rapidly growing ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme – which originated in South Yorkshire in 2009.

The free scheme was started to encourage all sizes of operators of van, truck, bus or coach fleets to improve efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions – to help improve local transport related air quality. There are now 60+ members in South Yorkshire and another 160 in further ECO Stars schemes across the UK, including Thurrock, Edinburgh and Nottingham.

Officers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Transport spent a day fact-finding. This included a site visit to ECO Stars member Sheffield Community Transport which provides local communities with services including Dial-a-Ride, Wheels 2 Work (a scooter loan scheme) and 14 local bus routes across the city.

Sheffield Community Transport’s General Manager Ian Jenkinson outlined how ECO Stars acted as an incentive to take action, “Over the last year, we’ve seen a 10% improvement in fuel consumption. We’ve achieved this through a number of initiatives but driver training has proved to be very effective. Supported by recommendations from the scheme, we monitor fuel consumption much more closely, and have made much greater use of bio-diesel.”

National ECO Stars Manager Ann Beddoes from Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council was delighted to meet the visitors.”Following the launch of the first ever ECO Stars scheme, we’ve seen scheme numbers multiply across the UK. With many of these receiving  funding from DEFRA or the DfT , it’s a privilege to be able to show them where it all started.”

The latest Five Star members – Symphony Group and Senior Architectural Systems were presented with plaques to mark their achievement.

Symphony Group produces and fits bespoke kitchens from its base in Barnsley. Marketing and Export Director, Simon Collyns, said “We’re dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment and we are doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint including making improvements to our fleet and optimising our routes”.

Doncaster-based Senior Architectural Systems produces aluminum glazing systems for commercial and residential customers. Business Development Manager Jonny Greenstreet said “ Not only are we very proud to have been recognised as a Five Star operator, but the road map provided to us by ECO Stars gives us a great idea of how to make further improvements to our fleet in order to lessen our impact on air quality. “

The ECO Stars scheme is managed in South Yorkshire by specialist transport consultants, Transport & Travel Research Ltd.