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East Midlands Chamber News

Boats, bikes and cars – Marina drives green

Community car share schemeMercia Marina has launched two green transport initiatives aimed at helping the environment, saving people money and promoting healthy lifestyles.

The 74-acre South Derbyshire marina has set up a partnership with community car share company Co-wheels to provide a pay-as-you-go car for boaters, holiday lodge owners, on-site businesses and people in nearby villages.

The Toyota Aygo car will be stationed next to the marina office, off Findern Lane, near Willington, and can be booked by anyone registered on the scheme. People can use the low-cost car for shopping trips to Derby or even overnight stays or weekend breaks.

Mercia Marina, Europe’s largest inland marina, is providing the service to help customers’ pockets and look after the environment, and will not be making any profit from the scheme.

In conjunction with the car share initiative, the marina has also launched a Community Bike Share scheme, where initially five cycles have been provided for the free use of boaters and lodge owners. The bikes will be stationed at an unlocked bike station in the secured section of the marina for people to use and return whenever they wish.

bike share schemeTwo moorers have volunteered to ensure the bikes are regularly maintained and repaired.

Robert Neff, General Manager of Mercia Marina, said: “This is all about becoming more responsible members of the community, saving people money, saving the planet, getting fitter and making life easier.

“Owning a car can be extremely expensive and comes with lots of added hassles like parking, servicing, and insurance. It’s particularly painful for people on a fixed income - but even for those for whom the cost is not so important, the hassle of licencing and maintaining a car makes shared cars an attractive alternative.

“The values of Co-wheels very much match our own, so we look forward to working closely together.”

Robert said that the car share and bike share initiatives had been extremely well received by the marina community, which consists of about 500 boaters and holiday lodge owners.

“Since the marina opened in 2008, we’ve been thoroughly committed to conservation and supporting our natural environment,” he said. “This philosophy does not stop at our front gate. We know the car share will enable many people to get out and about much more easily and cheaply than they may have been able to previously – but we also know we will be doing another good service for the environment.

“The bike share scheme reinforces that further, with the added benefit that we hope to encourage more people to get fit and healthy. The whole idea behind this scheme being free and without any red tape is that there should be no obstacles for people.”

According to the AA the average cost of owning and running a car has reached £4,767 per year, while the RAC puts the figure even higher, at £6,689.

Equally, taxi costs for occasional trips can mount up for boaters who do not have the use of a car: It costs around £5 to travel just down the road to Willington village, £10 to Burton and £18 to Derby.

Using the Mercia Community Car to travel to Derby centre and straight back will cost just £6.58, or just £5.80 to Burton and straight back. Those who want a longer trip will need to add £4.50 an hour.

Richard Falconer, operations director at Co-wheels, said: “As a social enterprise, Co-wheels strives to provide low cost transport options for everyone with no access to a car. We are very pleased to be expanding this service to boaters at Mercia Marina, especially as part of our ongoing relationship with Toyota.”

As part of the marina’s drive to improve healthy living and make the most of the environment, it has also created and published a number of cycle routes and walking maps. The latter were launched in conjunction with the marina’s £1.7m Boardwalk shopping, pub and office development in October last year.

The marina management has also been vociferous in attempts to preserve local bus services.

Robert added: “We’re all about the community. We take our responsibility to the marina and surrounding villages very seriously.”

Anyone can join the Community Car Share scheme if they have held a full UK driving licence for at least 12 months and have no more than six points on their licence (or 0 points if under 21). Lifetime membership of the scheme will cost £25, or just £10 for Mercia Club Card holders – a discount scheme for moorers.

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