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National Park Installs First Electric Vehicle Charging Points


Northumberland National Park Authoritys support of One North Easts Plugged in Places bid provides low carbon facilities in the countryside

The first charging points to enable people with electric cars and bikes to get out to enjoy the countryside in a low-carbon way without fear of running out of energy, are to be installed at Hadrians Wall World Heritage Site ready for the new visitor season in 2010.

The National Park Authority is match funding this investment in rural infrastructure as part of One North Easts successful bid for funding from the Governments Plugged in Places. The North Easts project has a total value of 7.8 million which will ultimately enable 1,300 charging points to be installed across the region and to fund research into innovative charging technologies such as rapid and inductive charging.

The North East is home to the UKs Low Carbon Economic Area for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles and will be home to one of the first and largest networks of charging points in Europe.  The first 619 regional charging points will be installed by the end of 2010, of which thirteen will be in and around the National Park.

The National Park Authority aims for the first rural charge points to be based in the Hadrians Wall area of Northumberland National Park at the popular Once Brewed National Park Visitor Centre and its scenic recreation site at Walltown. Both sites are easily accessible by car as they lie on the B6138 Military Road which runs alongside Hadrians Wall. A full charge (four to eight hours) will be free for a trial period and will enable the new model electric cars to drive for 100 miles. Hadrians Wall is 35 miles from Newcastle, and the National Park, which runs from Hadrians Wall to the Scottish Border, is 65 miles from end to end.

In time, new technology will make speed charging possible and the current charging sites will be upgraded, however the National Park Authority hopes that people will take the opportunity to charge up while they stay overnight, or go off for a nice walk and a good pub lunch.

The Hadrians Wall charging points will be the first of several installations across the National Park at places where electricity supply is viable, opening the way for carbon and pollution-free, deep country, exploration.  Businesses and settlements in and around the National Park are also taking part in this important improvement to rural facilities.

Following a guaranteed energy supply and testing of trial vehicles in the National Parks rugged terrain, the National Park Authority will be looking to convert its own vehicles to viable electric versions.  This is just one of a radical set of measures that the National Park Authority has committed to in order to reduce the carbon footprint of both the organisation and the place and create a Low Carbon National Park by 2015.

Speaking for the National Park Authority, Director of Corporate Services, Stuart Evans, said: The North Easts Plugged-in Places bid is the only national scheme to provide electric vehicle users the opportunity to visit the countryside. We have targeted Hadrians Wall for our first charging points due to its close proximity to the city and the iconic setting of the Wall. It is vital that rural areas are connected to the first wave of technological advances in order to support the growing tourist economy and to ensure our rural communities have equal access to these new services.

The countrys national parks are taking an important role in pioneering the use of alternative energy sources in the countryside. Paul Hamblin, Director of the English National Park Authorities Association added: This ground breaking scheme is one demonstration of how National Park Authorities are stepping up to the challenges of climate change and actively piloting new ways to make a practical difference on the ground.  The Governments Low Carbon Strategy sees a big role for electric vehicles in future and this exciting initiative is important to seeing how this can be applied in rural areas.

The regional Plugged-In Places bid, co-ordinated by One North East, is being financially supported by more than 40 regional partners, stretching from Berwick down to Redcar and from South Tyneside across to the National Park, and including locations from garden centres and hotels to major house builders and supermarkets, and all 12 of the North Easts local authorities.

Dr Colin Herron, One North East Manufacturing and Productivity Manager, said: “Installing electric vehicle charging points on Hadrian’s Wall will help demonstrate North East England’s leading role in this industry to thousands of visitors every year.

“We are delighted that the National Park Authority has shown such commitment to the switch to low-carbon transport, and having charging points at such an iconic regional destination will also help prove to motorists that electric vehicles won’t just be confined to urban areas.”

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