CAMBS: New �8m garden centre will trial solar-powered electric car charging port

A SOLAR-powered electric car charging port will be trialled at a new �8million garden centre which opens its doors next week.

Dobbies Garden World opens next Friday in Peterborough and will offer a 1,500sq ft Eco-Living Centre, where the range will help consumers consider green and more responsible products.

But customers who visit the centre can charge their electric cars for free using the charging port, powered by solar energy. The solar panels generate enough electricity to power a three-bedroom house for a year.

If the trial of the solar charging point is successful, Dobbies will roll out the concept to some of its other 30 garden centres across the UK.

A Dobbies spokesman said: “The move is part of the Edinburgh-based firm’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and hopes to inspire its customers to do the same.”

Dobbies, which is part of the Tesco Group, has partnered with EDF Energy to advise customers of the long-term solutions in helping with energy generation and control in the home.

Products on offer in the Eco-Living Centre include small steps such as setting up vertical gardens and taking up beekeeping, to more extensive solutions such as solar energy panels, air-source heat pumps and home insulation.

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Richard Jardine, sustainability manager for Dobbies Garden Centres, said: “Dobbies is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and inspiring its customers to consider small steps they can take towards a greener lifestyle.

“Dobbies Eco-Living Centre aims to give our customers a variety of product choices to make informed decisions for important changes within their home. Our partnership with EDF Energy leverages expert knowledge to offer customers individually-tailored help and advice.

“Our customers already respond well to environmentally-responsible choices so our Eco-Living Centre is designed to give them a one-stop destination to make those choices, and hopefully inspire first-timers to do the same”.

Mark Garnett, Head of Field Sales & Services at EDF Energy, said: “We’re delighted to be part of such a great innovation, which we believe will be a great success for Dobbies and their customer base.

”Sustainability is at the heart of EDF Energy and it’s through partnerships with companies and organisations such as Dobbies that we can help people reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their energy bills.”

The new store will stock more than 10,000 plants, shrubs and trees and includes extensive outdoor areas and a specialist aquatics department within an attractive landscaped environment.

It also features a Farm Foodhall selling locally grown produce from the Fens as well as meals and home baking from a 350-seater restaurant.

The building features sustainably-sourced wood and other natural construction materials along with energy efficient lights and extensive rainwater recycling to help reduce water usage.

The spokesman said: “The new garden centre is a step towards Dobbies’ future vision to create stores which are carbon neutral.”