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Argyll College UHI is leading the way in green energy efficiency and has received the Scottish Environment Protection Agency Award for Excellence in Environmental Sustainability in recognition of its achievements.
The award was presented at the SCDI Highlands and Islands annual
dinner and Business Excellence Awards at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on Friday September 7 in front of a sell-out audience of 350 guests and hosted by Gyles Brandreth.
Presented to the Highlands and Islands business or organisation which best demonstrates its commitment to improving its environmental performance and resource efficiency, the award recognises initiatives that go beyond regulatory compliance and also increase profits and/or efficiency.
Argyll College UHI, one of the partners in the University of the Highlands and Islands, provides further and higher education from nine centres spread throughout Argyll and Arran.
The average mileage of the entire college staff runs to approximately 150,000 miles per annum as people travel between centres to deliver training and to meet with students and business partners.
In 2015/16, Argyll College leased three fully electric vehicles. While there was initial doubt, and in some cases opposition, from staff to the use of such vehicles given the terrain involved and the perceived lack of charging points, the cars travelled some 30,000 miles in their first year.
Argyll College UHI finance director Ailsa Close said: ‘We are delighted to have our green credentials recognised in this way.
‘We are lucky enough to live and work in such a wonderful part of Scotland
and all of our staff have a commitment to protecting our beautiful environment.’
Building on the success of its first three vehicles, the college now operates a fleet of six Nissan Leafs, four Renault Zoes and a hybrid Mitsubishi.
It has recently been successful in securing funding to install charge points in Oban, Dunoon, Campbeltown and Helensburgh which will be available to the general public as well as for the college, which will ease the burden on the council chargers in those areas where, other than in Oban, there is currently only one charging point per town.
‘Given that the main nervousness with regard to the use of EVs is the lack of infrastructure, we see the installation of these chargers as being quite a big part of improving that infrastructure in Argyll,’ added Ms Close.
With the current EV fleet, it is estimated that the college’s annual petrol/diesel mileage is now just 10,000 miles, down from 150,000 miles, equating to an annual carbon emissions reduction of a staggering 20 tonnes.
This adds up to a saving of around £42,000 for the college and the public
purse in 2019/20 alone.
The college is currently operating a vehicle sharing agreement with Police Scotland in Lochgilphead, and has plans to extend this to the fire service in Argyll and possibly to other relevant charities in the area.
Elsewhere, an Argyll and Bute councillor has urged the local authority to make provision for more electric car charging points in the area in its new local development plan.
Lomond North councillor George Freeman says he would like to see a stipulation that at least one charging point is provided at every new residential property – and is seeking information from the council on whether it intends to install more of the facilities in the area.