There’s a new revolutionary vehicle being introduced into the Brecon Beacons National Park….
Visitors to the Brecon Beacons this summer can abandon their cars and enjoy the fresh air, quiet leafy lanes and open hill roads in funky, electric vehicles instead.
July 17th 2012 sees the launch of the ‘Eco Travel Network’ offering visitors to the Brecon Beacons National Park the chance to explore the area, visit a pub or reach the start of a walk in vehicles that are whisper quiet and so low energy they can be powered entirely by ‘local’ electricity generated from abundant Welsh sun, rain and wind. The Eco Travel Network is supported by the Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainable Development Fund.
Today’s visitors to the National Park drive an average of 300 miles during a 1 week stay, producing a staggering 50,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. By offering a zero carbon alternative, the Eco Travel Network plans to reduce that substantially.
Eco Travel Network Founding Director, Alison Kidd, explains – “most journeys in the UK are less than 5 miles but we do them in cars designed to go 500 miles at 70 mph. Most of a car’s energy is used to move the weight of the vehicle rather than the people inside! Changing attitudes (in this case to car travel) starts with changing behaviour and the best way to trigger a new behaviour is to make it fun. The Eco Travel Network is about making greener travel novel and fun and people on holiday are more open to trying new, fun experiences. Hopefully, they will take that experience and different way of thinking back to their everyday lives.”
The story of the Eco Travel Network began at the Hay Festival two years ago when researchers Alison Kidd and Peter Williams won an award of £10,000 in the first Green Dragons Den competition. This was used to fund the build of 2 experimental light weight electric buggies (‘b-bugs’) for a visitor trial in the National Park last year. Out of the success of the trial with both visitors and tourist businesses grew the idea of forming a network enabling visitor rental of lightweight, ultra low energy ‘eco-vehicles’ right across the Park.
In partnership with local tourism business owner, Ian Foster, The Eco Travel Network (a not-for-profit company) was established in April. It owns and insures a fleet of eco-vehicles. Local accommodation businesses who join the network can lease one of these, use it to promote their business, and rent it out to their visiting guests as a fun alternative to using their car. The plan is to grow the member network across the National Park and add a variety of lightweight electric vehicles over time.
With the support of Callow Marsh Renault of Hereford, the scheme is launching on July 17th with 6 brand new Renault Twizys. These exciting “urban chic” quadricycles are discovering “rural chic” in the rolling hills and scenic country lanes of Wales! ‘Thierry’ was the first arrival and, whilst initially disappointed by the lack of city night life, Thierry has taken to life in rural Wales with enthusiasm – the smell of wild garlic and the freedom of the hills being a particular appeal.
The Twizy carries 2 people, has a top speed of 50mph and a range of around 50 miles depending on driving speed and terrain. A single set of domestic PV panels generates enough electricity in a year to keep 5 Twizy-like vehicles on the road and a local community hydro scheme at Talybont-on-Usk reservoir enough to power 100.
The project has already established over 20 informal charge points for electric vehicles based around pubs, cafes and visitor attractions. In partnership with Zero Carbon Road Trips, this network is expanding fast across Wales welcoming visiting electric cars as well as providing top up charges for the locally rented vehicles.
The Eco Travel Network has the advantage of sharing the costs of vehicle rental across multiple small businesses as well as enabling the National Park to offer sustainable travel alternatives to visitors where they are actually staying. A rental hub to which visitors have to drive rather defeats the carbon-saving objectives.
Visitors can currently rent a Twizy through Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages, Llansantffraed Court Hotel, Abergavenny or Westview Guesthouse, near Hay. For details of other accommodation providers offering Twizy rental, contact the Eco Travel Network directly. The Brecon Beacons is the first UK National Park to offer electric car rental through its accommodation businesses.
Visitors are warmly invited to come to the Brecon Beacons and sample our local scenery, local food and local watts.
You can follow what’s going on through Twitter @ecofunkytravel
Contact: Ian Foster, Tel. 01497 842935, email: firstname.lastname@example.org