The National Trust is trialling the first electric van in its fleet of site vehicles in Northern Ireland.
The van is being trialled on the Causeway Coast by the facilities team as the conservation charity continues to adapt to meet energy targets to deliver 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2021.
Unlike hybrid vehicles or fuel-powered cars, electric vehicles run solely on electric power.
Electric cars are one of the most sustainable forms of transportation, with higher efficiency than gas-powered cars they reduce dependence on fossil fuels and require less maintenance than most cars.
The facilities team on the Causeway Coast which cares for the Trust’s buildings and amenities will use the new electric van to undertake their daily site checks, carrying out operational health and safety assessments ensuring visitors have the best experience possible.
Brendan Kelly, facilities manager explained: "As a conservation charity, we’re committed to managing our energy efficiency and the impact we have on the world around us. We continue to play a key role in protecting the environment so that we can share our special places with visitors, supporters and local communities. We are delighted to take this step this step in using electric vehicles and hope to help change the perception of electric cars and to encourage their use to become more widespread.
"In terms of our long term strategy, we are aiming to implement more electric vehicles where possible across our properties. Currently we still require the use of diesel vehicles to operate our visitor transport and heavier conservation jobs across the site, as diesel vehicles are designed for stronger towing power, have high durability and low fuel emissions but we are watching as technology develops to adapt where we can. For instance, we are actively working with Translink to understand how we can operationally become greener going forward whilst still providing an excellent visitor experience and Translink are currently trialling an electric bus at the Giant’s Causeway."
The trial is part of a wider effort to improve sustainability across the property group.
In 2017 the Causeway Hotel converted to biomass heating, significantly improving efficiency. In 2018 energy use for heating and hot water in the hotel reduced 27% on the previous years with the sustainable system set to recover its costs in a little over two years.