Scots cabbie turning the world green 11 | 09 | 2010

    THE TRANSPORT INDUSTRY in Scotland often comes in for a lot of criticism when it comes to the environment, but one Scottish cabbie is doing his best to turn the taxi industry green. And his efforts have seen him nominated for the Scottish Green Awards, to be handed out in October.

    Colin Paton, who runs Calder Cabs in Livingston, has already won a place on the prestigious Scottish Green List and believes is approach could cut emissions from the taxi business by 30 million tonnes every year.

    Not content with introducing a number of Toyota Prius hybrid petrol-electric cars to his fleet, Mr Paton now plans to make his own biofuel from chip shop oil to run another part of his fleet. He's also put his drivers through green driver-training courses to educate them how to reduce fuel consumption

    "There was lots of publicity about environmentalism and I thought it would be good to go down the green road," Mr Paton explained, "so just before Christmas 2008 I popped into a Toyota garage and wondered if the Prius vehicles could work for us?"

    After returning home, getting his calculator out and doing some sums, he realised that despite the Toyotas costing around £5000 more than the cars he was replacing he could recoup the money within fours years simply because of the savings on fuel — around £300 a week — and road tax. He went ahead and purchased six Prius taxis.

    Now though, such are the savings the cars are making for him that he is confident he will make his money back in two-and-a-half or three years. And such are the savings that a number of rival taxi firms, who initially mocked his green approach, are seriously following his environmentally-friendly route because of the financial sense it makes.

    In addition to the Prius taxis, Mr Paton's company also runs a number of larger vehicles which are not available as hybrids. His solution? He now runs them on biodiesel.

    "We are looking at it in a green way," he continued, "but we are also sure it will pay business dividends in future. There are huge savings on CO2 and if every taxi in Scotland went down this route, it would make a massive difference.

    "A taxi can save one tonne of carbon every 12,000 miles by doing what we have done. That could add up to 30 million tonnes across Scotland. And that's just the taxi business.

    "I know, just because we've done something different, that there are firms waiting for us to fail but the government has to make sure we are successful for the good of Scotland and its environment.

    "If they are to cut emissions by the amount they want — and Scotland's 42% target by 2020 is the most ambitious in the world — this is the way to go."

    And Mr Paton's green solutions have been lauded by Evan Williams, Chair of the Scottish Sustainable Development Forum, which put together the Green List

    "Colin has shown there are ways to transform traditionally high emission activity into a part of the new low carbon Scotland," Mr Williams said. "The taxi business is not usually what people think of as a green business but Calder Cabs is a great example of how sustainability makes perfect business sense. There is no reason why others can't follow this excellent example."

    Jim McGill

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