Plans to rip out and replace all of the city’s bus shelters have been dubbed a ‘greenwash’ by the Leicester Green Party.
Mags Lewis, the party’s chair, said that the existing shelters are “perfectly good and don’t need replacing” after it was announced that Leicester City Council has signed a new ten-year contract with Clear Channel UK to replace and manage the city’s 479 bus shelters.
The ‘multi-million’ pound cost will be met by the firm meaning there will be no cost to the city council or taxpayers.
But the Green Party leader said the cost isn’t the only thing that should be considered.
“It is simply greenwashing to say replacing perfectly good shelters with new shelters is good for the environment. What about the disruption to our roads, unnecessary work, lorries, the thousands of tonnes of concrete bring chopped up and replaced with near identical shelters?” she said.
Greenwashing is a term coined in the 1980s to describe companies or organisations spending more time and money marketing themselves as environmentally-friendly, than on actually minimising their impact on the environment.
She added: “To try and suggest this needless work is a boon for the environment is astonishing, and it’s simply fiction to suggest most of the existing shelters will be used again or upcycled.
“We were originally told by the council the ripped up shelters would be reused, which is simply not practical.”
The council says that all of the city’s existing shelters will be replaced with new structures built entirely from recyclable materials and feature seating made from recycled plastic.
Some shelters will be fitted with solar panels and power smart lighting to cut energy costs and around 30 will feature living roofs planted with a mix of wildflowers.
The citywide network of living roofs and solar-powered shelters will be a first for any UK city and the councils says it is just one of the steps being taken to help Leicester respond to the climate emergency and cut the city’s carbon emissions.
Deputy city mayor Councillor Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The citywide revamp of our bus shelters will bring huge benefits to Leicester. The new, modern shelters will be great for passengers and the mix of solar power and living roofs will be a major step forward for our efforts to become a carbon neutral and climate adapted city over the next ten years.
“It will be a perfect complement to our work to deliver a new carbon neutral bus station at St Margaret’s.”
The move was first mooted last year, but there was a legal challenge from the former contract holder JC Decaux.
The company had lodged papers with the High Court saying it expected to recover more than £2 million plus interests and costs through the action but LeicestershireLive understands the matter was settled out of court for a sum “in the region of £11,000”.
Work to replace the city’s bus shelters is due to begin this month and is likely to take around two years to complete. Clear Channel will be working with partners to ensure that all material from the old shelters is recycled, upcycled or otherwise avoids landfill.
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The number of existing paper poster advertising sites across the city will also be reduced as part of the new contract. Select sites at key locations will be replaced with digital advertising screens, powered by 100% renewable energy – the screens will be used to display public messages and advertise local businesses.
Leicester City Council said it will receive a “substantial annual income” generated from the bus shelter advertising revenue.
Some bus shelters that are in place where routes no longer operate, or have very low passenger numbers, will be removed without being replaced as part of the works.