THE Sandbanks Ferry Company has announced a new commitment to reduce its carbon emissions.

It says that in light of the government's target to get greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, it will carry out 'robust investigations into emerging environmentally-friendly alternatives to diesel propulsion' for the replacement of its current Bramble Bush Bay chain ferry, which is due to be ordered in 2032.

Mike Keen, managing director of the Sandbanks Ferry, said: "The Sandbanks Ferry is already one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport in Dorset, saving customers more than nine million road miles every year.

"However, we know that we can all do more, and this announcement signals our public commitment to looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint even further when we come to replace Bramble Bush Bay.

“We are committed to continuing to serve the residents of Dorset and beyond well into the future, and we want to make sure that in the future we can offer a service that is as green as possible too.”

Meanwhile, a public inquiry ­– called by the Department for Transport into proposed Sandbank Ferry toll rises – is set to take place virtually on Monday.

The operators argue toll increases are an important part of the company's financial management and for securing the future safe and reliable running of the service.

However, a controversial toll increase application in 2018 was rejected by government-appointed inspector Kenneth Stone.

A Sandbanks Ferry Company spokesman said: "Sandbanks Ferry Company has not had a toll increase approved for any class of vehicle fare for over five years, and over 10 years for foot passengers and bikes.

"In addition to funding a future replacement ferry, a small fare increase will help to keep pace with rising operating and staff costs."

On its commitment to reduce emissions, the company said that currently there is no viable non-diesel alternative drive system on the market. But as and when a greener alternative does appear, the company will evaluate their viability and sustainability.