While the Rochester Bridge Trust’s work is primarily on the bridges above the water, we also need to occasionally carry out activities underneath the bridges – on the water.
These activities could be visual inspections of the underdeck or river wall, or even clearance of rubbish from the foreshore.
In the past, this has involved hiring a petrol-powered boat, but we are now looking to further reduce the carbon impact of bridge maintenance activities by using an electric boat instead.
We recently trialled a zero emission, 100% recyclable work boat, which was hired from ZeroMarine in Gillingham. The fact the company is local is an important factor in our decision-making: the boat has a shorter distance to travel, requiring less power to be used before it begins work.
The boat is powered by rechargeable batteries and can travel at speeds of up to 12 knots (we’re more likely to stick to the cruising speed of 5kts – just because the boat can go fast, doesn’t mean it should!).
The boat can hold up to eight people and its hull design is such that it’s perfect for reaching out to collect debris (trolleys, traffic cones, etc) from the foreshore.
All the testing went well and it looks like this will be a good addition to the equipment used by our Term Maintenance Contractor, FM Conway.
The boat will still be hired, rather than purchased outright. This is because we need it just three or four times a year, and so it can be better utilised on a temporary basis, allowing other organisations to make benefit during the rest of the year.
The difference between this boat and a journey by the previous vessel is more than a 95% saving in carbon emissions or the equivalent of having to plant three trees per trip to offset the carbon emissions from a petrol-powered boat.
Additional benefits of the electric boat are that it is completely silent and so causes less disturbance. It also does not require the use of oils and lubricants – which inevitably leak into the waterway from time to time.