Eco-funky transport in the Brecon Beacons

Our goal is to offer visitors to the Brecon Beacons National Park a funky fun way to travel around during their stay which is low energy and environmentally friendly. Visitors to the Beacons currently average 50 car miles a day and produce 50,000 tonnes CO2/year.

LATEST NEWS – Following the successful b-bug trial in 2011 and with the help of a grant from Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainable Development Fund, we have established a not-for-profit company, Eco Travel Network Ltd, which will purchase, own and insure an electric vehicle fleet and lease them to member (tourist accommodation) businesses for them to use themselves, advertise their business and, most importantly, rent out to their visiting customers to explore the area instead of using their cars. This allows the individual businesses to generate revenue to offset the vehicle leasing cost. 

As far as we know, this will be the first ever eco-vehicle tourist rental scheme operating in the UK.

Timescales to launch the scheme this summer were always tight and very sadly, due to supply problems, we are not going to be able to get the set of product standard b-bugs built and running for July 1st which was our target for the 2012 tourist season. The buggy element of the plan will now have to wait until 2013 but is still very much part of our thinking. .

But the exciting news is that, with the support of Renault UK and Callow Marsh Renault Dealership in Hereford, we have managed to set up an alternative fleet of vehicles for rental this summer – they are Renault Twizys – funky electric, open-sided, tandem-style quadricycles launched by Renault UK in April. They have a 50 mile range and a top speed of 50 mph.

Meanwhile the prototype trial b-bugs,  Boris and Blodwen, have returned to Dragon Electric Vehicles for a period of rest and recuperation but I’m sure they will be seeing action again in the near future judging by the level of interest they attract wherever they go.

Certainly, the Eco Travel Network hopes to expand its membership and fleet over time to include a wide variety of lightweight vehicles including, we hope b-bugs.

You can follow the project’s ongoing progress in its new guise as the Eco Travel Network and/or come and visit the Brecon Beacons this summer and try a Twizy. We will be publishing the list of accommodation providers who will be offering Twizys for hire in the next month on the Eco Travel Network site.

If your interest was in the b-bug trial, read more about it here.

The b-bugs, designed and built by Dragon Electric Vehicles, are electric, road legal buggies with a top speed of 30 mph and a range of 25 miles. The small amount of electricity required to power them (1 kWh for 7 miles) can be provided by locally generated electricity from community micro hydro and domestic solar PV.

 We ran a trial of 2 prototype b-bugs, Boris and Blodwen in 2011. Visitors to the National Park were invited to use a b-bug for up to a week to visit the pub, reach a walk, go shopping or simply explore the area.

The vast majority loved driving the buggies and being in the open air. They reported that b-bugging turned every journey into an adventure, and some of them didn’t use their cars at all for the entire week.

 As part of the trial, we established an informal network of 20 b-bug charge points (local cafes, pubs, activity providers and attractions) where b-buggers could get a top up charge and enjoy a meal or an activity.

We were delighted that the b-bug project made the final Guardian Green Travel List 2011 – selected by judges as one of the 25 most innovative eco-tourism projects.

Thanks to a grant from the Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainable Development Fund, we have now established a not-for-profit company ‘Eco Travel Network’ which is purchasing 5 new b-bugs which will be leased from July 1st 2012 by 5 network members (hotels, campsites, self catering accommodation) who will rent the b-bugs to their guests.

We will provide more details of where you can rent the b-bugs or become a network member in due course as this information becomes available.

You can continue to follow the project on Twitter Follow @b_b_bug

Learn more about the 2011 b-bug trial.

Learn more about the Eco Travel Network.