Funding boost for zero emissions community transport on Isle of Wight

A project to provide zero emissions electricity to power a fleet of electric minibuses on the Isle of Wight has secured over £26,000 of grant funding.

The Hero for Zero project, run by Wight Community Access was awarded the grant by the South West Energy Hub working with the Solent Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The funding will enable Wight Community Access to develop detailed technical and business plans to generate green electricity for a fleet of minibuses on the island. The Hero for Zero project is supported by Isle of Wight council and the local parish councils.

Wight Community Access is a charity that runs bus services and community transport in the west of the Isle of Wight with a fleet of five minibuses.  Their team of 50 active volunteers were awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2016.   

They aim to convert their fleet of diesel minibuses to electric and generate their own green electricity to run the fleet.  A hybrid of solar PV (photo-voltaic) panels and wind turbines would generate 80-100kWh of green electricity per day to power the fleet, with the possibility of the surplus being offered to other local charitable organisations for their electric vehicles.

The South West Energy Hub works with organisations and communities across the region to identify, develop and implement low carbon energy projects.  It is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and hosted by the West of England Combined Authority.

Michael Craig, Wight Community Access director, said: “Our goal is clear – to keep our fleet relevant and attractive to our communities in the medium term whilst protecting our beautiful local environment.  Many residents in our area rely on us to get to local retail, health and social amenities and the full support we have from our councils encourages us to see this project through.

“Although we have some expertise amongst our volunteers, we are most grateful for the help we have received from South West Energy Hub and Solent LEP which, through the professional support they provide, will give us the confidence to progress this vital project”.

Anne-Marie Mountifield Chief Executive and Board Director for Solent LEP said: “The transition to sustainable low carbon renewable energy solutions is a key priority for the region. This innovative project is a fantastic example of how this can be achieved through the community working in partnership with local organisations and businesses.”

“Promoting a clean, green recovery lies at the heart of the government’s strategy to rebuild Britain and fuel economic recovery across the country, and in our economic recovery plan we  renew our commitment to securing the shift to a net zero carbon economy and the Hero for Zero project is an excellent example of a community leading the way on developing innovative solutions on the island”.

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for South West Energy Hub said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to award grant funding to a scheme that has the potential to bring such positive benefits to the environment, residents and businesses.  We hope the ambition seen on the Isle of Wight will inspire more communities across the South West Energy Hub region to develop their own green energy projects”.