Electric wheels for Lewis community

Third Sector Hebrides formally unwrapped its new “green” electric people carrier today (Friday) with the help of MP Angus MacNeil, MSP Alasdair Allan and Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Chair of the Community Planning Partnership.

The electric vehicle is being used by TSH for non-critical patient transport and other social purposes, for Dial-a-Bus and community transport in Stornoway and the surrounding area.

Operating from Third Sector Hebrides’ Transport/Staran operational base – formerly the Old Mill at Kenneth MacKenzie Ltd – which also houses an electric charging point, the initiative tests the viability of lowering running costs for community-delivered services as well as contributing to low carbon reduction targets.

Alasdair Nicholson, Chief Executive of TSH, said: “We brought the first electric vehicle into the Hebrides when we purchased a small electric tipper over a year ago, which is used for litter clearing and environmental work.

“This new investment, made with the help of the Scottish Government’s low carbon initiative, through the Community Planning Partnership, takes matters further and will help us to provide services to people and particularly help those who do not need an ambulance to get from hospital to home sooner than would otherwise be the case.”

While this is TSH’s second electric vehicle, it is the first being used for social purposes of this sort.

Along with the Council’s electric car in Uist, and a similar electric people carrier in Ness, all of which need charging points, there is a considerable interest in whether the Islands’ green revolution can go further and be a partial answer to mitigating high fuel costs.

Alasdair Allan, MSP, said: “It’s good to see the Western Isles pioneering a new technology with real potential, and helping the community at the same time. 

“This vehicle will be of real benefit to patients and the wider community, and will I believe contribute towards making electric vehicles a more accessible and widely available option in the future.  Today is a chance to celebrate this achievement.”

Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of the Council, added: “I am pleased, as Chair of the Community Planning Partnership, to see initiatives such as this come to fruition. 

“By purchasing this new electric car, Third Sector Hebrides are once again demonstrating their commitment towards the use of green energy. 

“Green energy is becoming increasingly important to these islands, and it’s great to see the local voluntary sector making use of it in this way.”