An innovative electric car-sharing scheme in Hawick has been shown green for go after securing £167,000 in funding.
Four low-carbon cars are to be bought and based in the town, most likely in the Mart Street car park, with the scheme lined up to start next summer.
The project has been driven forward by Hawick Community Council, and it is being backed by Scottish Power Energy Networks’ green economy fund to the tune of £107,000.
Transport Scotland is chipping in £30,000 to pay for chargers, and an interest-free loan will add a further £30,000 or so.
Community councillor Andy Maybury, project manager for the scheme, believes it offers multiple benefits to townsfolk including independence, cost savings and energy efficiency.
He said: “We’re negotiating with Transport Scotland over grants for installation of the chargers and then interviewing the different national car clubs to decide which to go with. We will almost certainly link up with one.
“We looking at four vehicles of different sizes. It will go to the public to decide which vehicles to order.
“There will be five charging points, one for each of the car club vehicles plus a public charge point.
“We’re in negotiations with the council to make use of the five parking spaces in the Mart Street car park because the idea is to have it close to the buses and taxis so that people can come down from other parts of the town to collect their cars and get back home.”
Scheme users will need to sign up and there will be a checking process to verify driving licences.
Drivers wanting to book a vehicle will be able to do so via a phone app or online version.
They can then just turn up at the appointed time with a phone or card, unlock the car and drive off one of a range of cars prospectively offering two to seven seats.
Mr Maybury said: “We’re looking at a grand launch in the summer next year
“The motivations behind it are many. It is looking at giving people more options about how they travel, providing a vehicle for people who don’t own their own vehicle or don’t want to own their own vehicle.
“On the environmental front, with respect to climate change, car clubs are much more efficient in terms of resources in general and electric vehicles are very much better in terms of energy efficiency and climate impact.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, the town’s honorary provost, is fully behind the scheme, and he said: “This is an innovative project for Hawick and the community council should be congratulated for taking this forward and securing substantial funding.
“There are many in the town who do not own a vehicle but would like to use the opportunity to use one when the need arises.
“This scheme makes that possible and also has the potential to reduce the ever-increasing number of vehicles that are congesting our streets with the added bonus of helping the environment.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall agreed, telling last week’s community council meeting: “It’s fantastic news for our town.”