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December 2, 2009

Community transport is lifeline

An electric car which will be used for community transport in the Cairngorms National Park has been unveiled.

An electric car which will be used for community transport in the Cairngorms National Park has been unveiled.
Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company will use it to take people with limited access to transport to doctor’s appointments and shopping.

The car, which can tow its own wind turbine, was launched as a Highland Council-commissioned report forecasted a decline in filling stations.

The current number of 231 sites is expected to fall to 117 in 10 years.

CNPA said its electric vehicle could reach speeds of 70mph and has a range of 100 miles.

It takes about 10 hours to recharge and can tow a small wind turbine on a trailer for charging in remoter areas.

Outdoor charging points have been installed in Aviemore and Grantown-on-Spey and plugs will also be fitted to the homes of the community company’s volunteers.

Drivers have been given special training because the car makes half the engine noise of a petrol or diesel fuelled car and added caution will be needed when driving near pedestrians and cyclists.
David Green, convener of the CNPA, said the car was part of efforts by the park authority to tackle climate change.

He said: “This is a very exciting project for everyone involved.
“Testing of electric vehicles hasn’t really happened outside of cities so I think what we are doing here is innovative and really quite brave.”
Maggie Lawson, of Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company, added: “Our volunteers are delighted to be testing the car in our rural environment and very excited to be part of a project which is working towards reducing our carbon footprint.”

Cheap fuel

The car is a joint initiative between CNPA and Perth College UHI with support from the Highland Regional Transport Partnership, Community Energy Scotland, Climate Challenge Fund and local schools and colleges.
The project has been welcomed by the Scottish government.

Meanwhile, a study commissioned by Highland Council has forecast a reduction in filling stations in the Highlands and Islands over the next eight to 10 years.
However, consultants Experian said motorists would still have access to fuel within a 15 minutes drive of their homes. People in remoter areas would have further to travel.
The study suggested drivers were more concerned about getting cheap fuel than the demise of stations.
Researchers also reported supermarkets were “soaking up” customers and younger members of family-owned businesses were reluctant to take over the concerns because of the long hours and low profitability.

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