A shared transport project investigating ways of using electric vehicles (EVs) to help people travel differently and affordably around North Powys could soon be motoring as coronavirus restrictions lift in Wales.
Not-for-profit community enterprise, Open Newtown, which hosts the Low Carbon Transport Project, wants to hear from interested families, individuals, agencies and businesses across North Powys about how they could utilise a small fleet of nearly-new EVs for hire in the local community.
A webinar series begins next week for local people interested in directing the project, which is due to be incorporated this autumn as a new community business for the region.
The EV Enterprise Start-Up webinars start on Tuesday, July 14 from 10am to 12 noon and runs for five consecutive weeks. Joining details are available by emailing Suzanne Iuppa, community project co-ordinator, at [email protected].
The EVs will be able to re-charge their batteries at new electric vehicle charging bays recently installed by Powys County Council at the main car parks in Welshpool, Machynlleth, Newtown and Llanidloes. Dedicated chargers planned later this year.
Focused on the towns along the Cambrian Line in North Powys, the project began a year ago and is funded through Arwain, the LEADER Programme in Powys 2014-2020 supported by the Welsh Government and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Electric vehicles are cheap to run, eligible for zero road tax, have low maintenance costs and become better for the environment as they age, as more electricity comes from renewable energy sources in the UK. The plan in North Powys is to have a pool of vehicles available.
These vehicles will be available to families to help with transport needs, provide extra resource for established community car schemes in the region and be available for contract work on set days where beneficial to communities.
Food and prescription deliveries are anticipated to be a popular use for the fleet, which will include a small van as well as family cars, all powered by electricity.
“Current Government advice for healthy travel is to walk and cycle where you can, first,” said Adam Kennerley, of Open Newtown. “We have been working on the provision of EVs in Newtown for a year now and it looks like public transport is going to be affected for some time by the Covid-19 pandemic, although we would like to support our iconic Cambrian Line wherever possible.
“Access to hire EVs, which will be maintained with strict hygiene standards, will be a valuable future choice for local people who do not wish to contribute to air pollution whilst driving, and who need to save money in their household budgets.
“Simply put, we want to make it possible to drive an EV in Mid Wales without having to own one.”
The project has plans to install further charging points in partnership with local businesses, tourist venues and community hubs, thus strengthening the charging infrastructure in North Powys and making it possible to get around in low carbon vehicles for personal or business use.
Research has shown that charging points give increased footfall and spend at local businesses and could be combined with a recreational offer, takeaway food or picnic option on-site.
To contribute ideas and find out how to get involved as a car scheme member, local host for EV chargers, contact Suzanne Iuppa.