YESTERDAY I had the pleasure of attending Lydiard Park to see how some of our biggest employers are using hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The event was organised by the Swindon Hydrogen Hub, which is made up of more than 30 organisations who work together to develop projects to deploy hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

The council is an executive and founder member of the Hydrogen Hub, alongside Wiltshire Council and Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Hydrogen Hub is now a national organisation, but began life in Swindon and is a business-led group which works to promote commercial use of hydrogen applications, both stationary and automotive.

It was fascinating to gain an insight into how companies such as Nationwide, Arval and the National Trust are using this cutting edge green technology.

The Toyota and Hyundai cars were brought to Swindon thanks in part to council officers who supported the funding bid for the hydrogen cars through the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

There was an opportunity for other companies to find out about the funding opportunities available to access these types of vehicles, which have all the benefits of current petrol and diesel cars but which produce zero emissions.

It was interesting to hear that hydrogen fuel cell cars take just three minutes to refill and have an impressive range of 300 miles.

Swindon has long been seen as the a pioneer of hydrogen fuel technology and five years ago the UK’s first public hydrogen refuelling station was opened at Honda’s South Marston plant following a collaboration between the Japanese car giant, BOC and Forward Swindon.

The council has also used hydrogen fuel powered vehicles in recent years. In addition to the Hyundai and Toyota vehicles, the Honda Clarity, not available at the time of the OLEV bid, is now undergoing trials in the UK.

Our twin town of Salzgitter also has a reputation for promoting hydrogen fuel cell technology, so it was something of a coincidence that only last week during a twinning visit to the town I was privileged to take a journey on a hydrogen powered train, which was produced at Alstom Transport’s Salzgitter factory.

I believe it is crucial that we as a town remain at the forefront of cleaner, greener technology which is why one of the council’s priorities focuses on supporting a growing low-carbon economy.

We have done fantastically well in recent years with our solar projects but we are also reviewing our vehicle fleet and looking at alternative fuelled vehicles.

This strategy will include electric vehicles, which is why we are currently using an electric van as part of a trial.

I would like to sign off this week’s column by wishing all our students who will be collecting their GCSE results today the very best of luck.

This is a particularly nerve wracking time for young people and I hope all those waiting for their results get the rewards their hard work deserves.