The holly and the EV... why I'm dreaming of a greener Christmas
PUBLISHED: 10:18 22 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 22 December 2019
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Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, a time for family, friends and reflection.
At home we embrace the shorter days with wintery walks and mulled wine (for the grown-ups of course). I'm sure I'm not alone in taking time to reflect over the festive season too. I enjoy making a note of the positive moments from the past year and what I might do differently in the new year.
My work has taken me all over the world this year, but one of my new experiences of 2019 took place a little closer to home.
The nature of my work means I have a higher carbon footprint than many, and I'm always looking at different ways to help reduce my impact on the planet.
In the autumn, I became an ambassador for the Go Ultra Low campaign, a joint government and industry initiative to promote the uptake of electric vehicles.
I'd been considering switching to electric for a while, and the role encouraged me to take the plunge and make the switch, meaning that I am now a proud electric vehicle owner.
It's fair to say the family had mixed reactions at first - excitement from the kids, apprehension from my wife Marina - but there is no doubt that we've all come around as we're enjoying the smoother ride of the electric vehicles. A short test drive of one of these cars was enough to convince me that they're the future, and with over 45 models to choose from, it seems there's already a vehicle for everyone.
I'm not alone in going electric this year - the latest figures show there have been over 60,000 plug-in vehicles registered so far in 2019. This has led to another record year in terms of EV uptake across the UK - although this does mean I am less of a trend-setter than I originally thought...
It's not surprising that so many people have decided to try an electric car; latest rapid charging technology means I can charge my car's battery up to 80% in as little as 30 minutes. The financial benefits of owning an EV are not to be sniffed at either - did you know that some pure electric cars could cost as little as 2p per mile to run, compared with 10-14p for diesel and petrol alternatives? EV owners can also enjoy markedly lower maintenance and running costs which is also driving the change towards wider adoption.
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Local councils are playing a key role in helping motorists make the switch to electric too. Camden council is taking positive steps to increase the availability of charge points, with its action plan showing how it is developing a comprehensive network of charging infrastructure across the Borough. Those running an electric vehicle in London, like me, also benefit from being exempt from the ULEZ and Congestion Zone charges, as well as having access to reduced resident and business permit prices.
And the plans don't stop there. Beyond Camden, 25 of London's boroughs have been allocated around £4.5million of funding to install charge points on residential streets, including retrofitting lamp posts, so that even more people will be able to access charging facilities at home.
TfL has also worked to provide more than 200 rapid chargers across London so far and is planning to install a total of 300 by the end of 2020.
All of these initiatives are contributing to London's growing network which comprises over 7,500 charging connectors.
Making a clean start to 2020
For those who want to see the electric vehicles in action, Go Ultra Low has announced a Christmas tree collection service in the new year which will use fully electric vans.
Some residents in Camden will have access to a one-off collection service on Tuesday, January 7 2020. The trees will be taken to local recycling points where they will recycled and turned into compost.
If, like me, you'd like to take positive steps in the new year and make some environmentally friendly new resolutions, this could be a good way to make a start.
I'm a firm believer in making small steps which can add up to make a big difference. Switching to an electric vehicle could be a small change you could make in the new year - that will make a positive difference not only to the environment, but to your finances too.
Visit goultralow.com/Christmas for information about the Christmas tree collection service.