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Foresight partners with CNG Fuels to deliver carbon-neutral UK transport network as demand for clean fuels grows

Two Foresight investment funds have partnered with CNG Fuels to acquire and grow a strategic network of biomethane HGV refuelling stations across the UK. CNG Fuels is the UK’s dominant supplier of renewable biomethane compressed natural gas for the UK’s truck sector. Transport sector emissions accounted for 34% of UK emissions in 2019. Biomethane-refuelling technologies reduce carbon emissions by 80+% and lower operating costs and improve air quality.

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LONDON, 04 December 2020: Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”) is pleased to announce an £80 million investment by two of its funds into a portfolio of five biomethane Compressed Natural Gas (“Bio-CNG”) refuelling stations for HGVs, which will enable fleets to switch from diesel to carbon-neutral fuel.

Foresight Inheritance Tax Fund and JLEN Environmental Assets Group (“JLEN”) have provided an initial funding line for a joint venture (“JV”) with CNG Fuels Limited (“CNG Fuels”), the UK’s leading developer and operator of CNG refuelling infrastructure. This injection of capital will be used to acquire existing refuelling sites enabling CNG Fuels to fund the construction of a further 14 stations on the UK’s major trucking routes. The investment forms part of a wider strategy to tackle the carbon intensity of the transport sector and is fully aligned with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

The transport sector is the UK’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. In 2019 it accounted for 34% of total UK greenhouse gases of which 4.5% were attributed to HGV operations specifically[1].

The five refuelling stations currently operated by CNG Fuels offer a low-carbon, low-cost alternative fuel source for HGV operators that are looking to make the switch from diesel. It will extend its strategic network with 14 new refuelling stations across the UK over the next two years, responding to a surge in demand for renewable fuel from major brands and facilitating a significant 80+% reduction in carbon emissions by operating fleets.

The joint venture follows the launch of the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan, which included the proposal of a consultation on the phase out of new diesel HGVs to put the UK in the vanguard of zero emission freight.

All the Bio-CNG supplied by CNG Fuels is approved under the Department for Transport’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) scheme as renewable and sustainable. It is currently the leading commercially available solution at scale to reduce HGV transport industry emissions and contribute to cleaner air. The fuel cuts vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% compared with diesel and will gradually become fully carbon neutral from 2021 as the biomethane is increasingly sourced from manure, a heavy emitter of greenhouse gas.

While the Government has committed to maintain a clear advantage for gas powered vehicles until 2032, Bio-CNG will have a favourable fuel duty positioning compared to diesel vehicles. This offers fleet operators a financial incentive to make the switch to CNG, accessing fuel that is 35% - 40% cheaper.

This is Foresight’s first sustainable transport investment extending its sustainable infrastructure portfolio beyond its diverse energy portfolio and further aligns its activities with national decarbonisation efforts, which include recent investments in sustainable forestry and sustainable heat.

Ernst & Young LLP acted as financial adviser to CNG Fuels in connection with the transaction and the structuring of the investment from Foresight.

Commenting on the investment, Matt Hammond, Partner at Foresight Group, said“Foresight is delighted to be supporting and working with CNG Fuels. It is very pleasing to see attractive investment opportunities right across the sustainable infrastructure sector and that our investments have real impact in the decarbonisation of the transport sector.”

Baden Gowrie-Smith, Chief Financial Officer of CNG Fuels, added: “We expect the number of CNG trucks on UK roads to double in 2021 as fleet operators take action to support the Government’s Net Zero targets. This exciting partnership with Foresight demonstrates their enthusiasm for biomethane as a solution to decarbonise heavy transport at scale, and the near-term development of more stations will enable us to serve our customers even better by delivering carbon neutral Bio-CNG nationwide. We hope this will give even more brands the confidence to switch from diesel.”

Richard Morse, Chairman of JLEN, added: “We are pleased to make this investment into biomethane refuelling infrastructure, helping to decarbonise one of the most emission-intensive parts of the transport sector.”

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