charities, environment, housing

Housing association leads the way for capital businesses

THE organisation behind Britain’s first ‘car-free’ housing development has made another commitment to the environment . . . .

It has just bought its first electric-powered van.

Canmore Housing Association’s new Citroen Berlingo is currently cruising the streets around Edinburgh. It is the first of its type to be brought into service by a Scottish housing association.

The new van, white with green livery – looks much like any other small commercial vehicle. The only difference is there’s no noise and no immediate pollution. Power comes courtesy of the nearest 13-amp socket. And staff at Canmore say a daily overnight charge will allow them to drive around the capital with ease.

Alan Brown, the chief executive of Canmore, said: “Even taking account of any pollution produced making the electricity, the van is responsible for far fewer greenhouse gases than a petrol equivalent. By using the van we’re also helping keep pollution out of the city, and that’s important to us. We are likely to replace more of our van fleet with electric vehicles over the next few years.”

In fact city pollution was so important to Canmore that it embarked on building Britain’s first, purpose-built, car-free housing development in the Scottish capital.

The £9.5 million Slateford Green complex, of 120 eco-friendly flats, was officially opened last year by the then Scottish environment Minister Sarah Boyack. The development, in the west of Edinburgh, incorporates a range of ‘green’ features.

But most crucially, with the exception of spaces for some disabled tenants, there are no parking facilities for cars on the site. A central area, which would have been occupied by tarmac and vehicles, has instead a striking garden, complete with water features.

Mr Brown said: “Many of the residents at Slateford Green remark on how quiet it is without cars. They’re certainly unlikely to hear our new van pay a visit, because it hardly makes a noise. And a full, overnight charge will last around 55 to 60 miles, more than enough to carry out a day’s deliveries and visits to all our sites around the city.”

He added: “As an organisation providing safe, affordable housing for a range of people, we feel it’s important to protect their environment and to minimise the type of pollution they’re exposed to. Hopefully other companies and public sector organisations will follow our lead in using more eco-friendly transport – and make the capital a cleaner, and greener place to live and work.”

Despite their rarity, electric vehicles are nothing new. The first one was built in 1834 and by 1900 there were more cars powered by electricity than petrol. However, the relatively low price of petrol and the slow development of this alternative means of transport kept vast numbers of electric cars and vans off our roads for decades. Only now is the idea being re-examined.

The high price of fuel is one reason many motorists might consider going electric, or buying a hybrid vehicle (using electricity and petrol). Another is a new UK government statistic that says that the vehicles we drive produce more than a quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions.

Dr Richard Dixon, head of research at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said there were “lots of benefits” in using electric vehicles, in particular they cut pollution in congested city centres. He said: “We’re already seeing signs of the government offering much more financial support for these types of vehicles and there’s no doubt they will become much more visible on our roads in the future.”

He also had words of praise for Canmore for buying the new van. He said: “We welcome organisations which are looking to the future and making this type of investment.”

Notes to editors:

1. Canmore Housing Association is a non-profit making body, which has its headquarters in Edinburgh. It manages around 2000 homes for rent and shared ownership in east central Scotland and is celebrated its 25th birthday last year. Named after Malcolm Canmore – one of Scotland’s earliest kings – the association has grown steadily, developing homes that adapt and cater for changing needs. The organisation is also innovative, believing that successful and dynamic communities require an imaginative approach to housing development.

2. Please note that all the houses on at Slateford Green have been sold or let. However you can apply to join Canmore’s waiting list.

3. For more information go online:

Read the full press release about Slateford Green or visit the Citroen website and read more about the Berlingo electric van

Read more about electric vehicles at or visit Friends of the Earth Scotland


Please contact Adrian Mahoney, The PR Store
T: 01506 823714
M: 07967 150560


Alan Brown, Canmore Housing Association
0131 313 5444