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June 23, 2010

Car schemes under the radar

Most community activity operates well below the radar of government.  Thousands of small acts of consideration and kindness between people living near to one another.  Sometimes this casual activity becomes more formalised – like the car schemes which now operate all around the country. Volunteer drivers providing vital transport links in parts of the country where no public transport operates.  Scotland’s largest community scheme has just started to innovate with new green technology

An electric car which can be charged by wind or from a domestic power outlet is to become the first to be used in a rural community.

The Cairngorms Electric Vehicle (EV) is being used by a Highland charity that takes those without access to transport to appointments and to use local services.

The keys were handed over to the award-winning Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC) by Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing.

He said:  “This is the first time I’ve driven an electric car and I’m very impressed with the work that’s gone in from all partners involved.”

“We want Scotland to be at the forefront of building a sustainable low carbon economy of the future – to do that we need more great projects like this one in the Cairngorms.  I hope that this will be a catalyst for action right across the country.”

The volunteer drivers will substitute their own car for the EV and report back on its effectiveness in the rural communities.

David Green, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) 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.

“The core of the project is obviously about tackling and adapting to climate change but the electric car is helping us to meet many other aims in the National Park Plan from promoting sustainable transport to ensuring that we truly combating social inclusion issues, which is why we have made the link with the Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company.”

The motor can reach speeds of 70mph, can run for up to 100 miles when fully charged and costs 10% of a diesel car to run.

It can be re-charged from a standard 13amp plug in around 10 hours and it can also tow its own wind turbine on a trailer for charging anywhere.

Outdoor recharging points have already been installed at the offices of the BSCTC in Aviemore and the CNPA’s offices in Grantown-on-Spey and plug points will also be installed at volunteer drivers’ homes.

Maggie Lawson of the BSCTC commented: “All our volunteers are excited about being involved in the project which is an important green scheme.

“The people we pick up are also delighted to be involved in the project which is working towards reducing our carbon footprint.”

A second phase of the Cairngorms EV project will get underway in 2010 with the installation of Elektrobay recharge points in key areas of the National Park.  These will allow on-street recharging by the Park’s own EV but also by any other privately owned electric cars, adding to the network of recharge points already in place