A new greener way to travel around the Brecon Beacons National Park has been launched today, offering visitors and residents the chance to explore the area in low energy electric vehicles that can - in theory at least - be powered entirely by locally generated power. Is it a car, a bike or a golf buggy?
With funding from the Welsh government and the National Park the Eco Travel Network has put six Renault Twizy vehicles on the road. Measuring just 2.34 metres long and 1.24 metres wide, these quirky quadricycles carry two people, have a top speed of 50mph and can travel up to 50 miles between charges.
Accommodation businesses have joined the project and will be able to lease vehicles and rent them out to guests to encourage green travel in the park. The initiative makes the Brecon Beacons the first UK National Park to offer electric car rental through its accommodation businesses.
As part of the initiative more than 20 informal charge points for electric vehicles have been set up in pubs, cafes and visitor attractions around the National Park.
According to the National Park Authority visitors to the area drive an average of 300 miles during a one week stay, at a total cost of 50,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Though they'll make a negligible difference to this figure the new rental vehicles hint at a possible future alternative.
Founding Director of the Eco Travel Network Alison Kidd explained:
'Most journeys in the UK are less than five 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.'
Hay-on-Wye tourism business owner and Eco Travel Network Director Ian Foster, added:
'Not only are the Twizys an environmentally friendly way for our visitors to travel, but the ever expanding network of charging stations in the area is connecting tourism businesses around the National Park.'
Cllr Evan Morgan, Chairman of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund, said:
'Support from the Sustainable Development Fund has helped the Eco Travel Network with start up costs and has really got this project off the ground. This scheme will have benefits for the local economy, environment and community, and we're pleased to support such an innovative approach to sustainable travel.'