Taking the Caledonian Canal can reduce CO2 emissions by over 85%

date15 June 2015

The 24 metre Sir John Murray, Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s (SEPA) scientific survey vessel, will take the opportunity to travel through the historic canal today (15 June 2015) to show how taking the direct route to the North Sea can dramatically save on CO2 emissions.

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The vessel passes through the canal as part of its voyage to study fish and plankton in the Cromarty Firth, having spent the last year performing survey work in the west coast of Scotland and playing a key role for SEPA in monitoring the sea areas surrounding fish farms.

The voyage from the west coast of Scotland to the Cromarty Firth through the canal has been long known as a shortcut that avoids the longer trip and stormier seas of the Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath. However it is the benefit the route brings to demonstrate how a shorter journey can reduce CO2 emissions that most interests SEPA.

Taking the shorter 60 mile route represents a significant saving in both the time taken for the voyage and the crew estimates that one journey through the canal could reduce fuel usage from 3,850 litres to just 500 litres, which represents a reduction in carbon emissions of over 85% compared to the longer journey. Over the full trip when the boat returns to work on the west coast, an estimated 7,700 litres could be saved.

Brian O’Keefe, Marine Survey Vessel Manager at SEPA said:

This shorter route saves time, money and is better for the environment as it uses less diesel. It’s an easy lesson for us all: reducing CO2 emissions can be as simple as taking a shorter journey.”

SEPA has a duty under the Climate Change (Scotland Act) 2009 to deliver progress on cutting Scotland’s emissions and last year commenced a five year plan to tackle climate chance directly by committing to demonstrate the best examples of how to reduce greenhouse gases. SEPA also has a duty to report on progress on carbon reduction to the Scottish Government.

The Sir John Murray’s four man crew Hugh Anderson (Skipper), Davie Johnston (Mate), Allan Craig (Engineer), Grant Wilson (Deckhand) from SEPA’s Marine Survey Vessel Unit bring over 50 years of experience to the trip.

Equipped with underwater multi-beam scanners, the Sir John Murray can look under the surface to produce 3D maps and detect fish shoals and other large animals in the water. Switched on they would prove to be an invaluable tool for the Loch’s Nessie hunters.