LEADING SOMERSET EMPLOYER BACKS PLANS TO EXTEND THE STRAWBERRY LINE

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Posted 1 year ago

Edwards, one of the largest employers in Somerset, is backing plans to create a traffic-free path to help more of its employees get to and from work more sustainably and safely.

The semiconductor manufacturer has offices and a factory in Clevedon and employs almost 800 people, many local and others from further afield. However, the site is poorly served by public transport. 

Neil Mehta, General Manager, is pioneering several projects to encourage employees to walk or cycle to work as part of the company’s wider strategy to reduce carbon emissions. 

Employees already have access to a ‘cycle to work’ scheme, which includes accessing bicycles through a work-related payment benefit scheme. However encouraging even more staff to cycle means overcoming wider community issues around public transport connectivity.

“We are a big employer in the Clevedon area, and I’m delighted many of our employees do walk to work. Some, like myself, cycle to work but there are some challenges around this,” says Neil. 

To support the community and to provide greater options to employees, Neil has joined the action group which is working to drive the project forward. 

“There is a train station about two miles away (Yatton) which has regular trains for our employees from further afield, such as from Weston Super Mare or Bristol, but there are no public transport links to our site, or nearby from the train station,” Neil said. 

This month, it’s hoped the various parties will agree a plan targeting a 2025 completion.

Cyclist and local resident Sue Cooper leads the action group who are supporting the ambitious plan. She said working with Edwards can only benefit the project.

She said: “We see Edwards as a business partner for our community group and it’s really helpful to have a business like this alongside us. It helps us demonstrate the financial advantages, the community and staff advantages and also could act as a blueprint for other businesses to come alongside as the project moves forward.”

The aim is to create a traffic free route from Clevedon all the way to Yatton and beyond which can be used by walkers, cyclists, runners and wheelchair users. Currently a petition supporting this project  has reached almost 3,000 signatures (link in Editor’s Notes below). 

If the campaign group is successful the new route would pass very close to Yatton Station and Edwards’ premises, therefore cycling to work from the train station would become an option for more staff.

Neil says, “I would love to see the Strawberry Line extended to allow colleagues to take bikes on the train and then cycle the couple of miles to work without feeling vulnerable cycling on a very busy road.”

Edwards is the leading developer and manufacturer of sophisticated vacuum products, exhaust management systems and related value-added services. These are integral to manufacturing processes for semiconductors, flat panel displays, LEDs and solar cells. Its team is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimising impacts on the natural world and environment. Their mission is:

“Edwards, as part of the Atlas Copco Group, has set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

To find out more about Edwards visit https://www.edwardsvacuum.com/en-uk