Cab's a fare bit greener

Going green in a taxi usually means you've had too much to drink.

Matthew Kirby

Going green in a taxi usually means you've had too much to drink.

But if you take a ride with Ecocabs they will not only get you where you need to go, but you will also be doing your bit for the environment.

The Hexham company's environmentally friendly cabs are believed to be the first in the North-East to be fuelled by biodiesel, which uses rapeseed oil to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions. Entrepreneur Matthew Kirby, 21,[correct] came up with the idea after his brother Michael got him thinking about the need to combat climate change.

The businessman, of Hallgate, Hexham, who started out selling cars for his father, then moved into the import and export industry, said he hoped more companies would follow his example. The former Queen Elizabeth High School pupil said: "We have only been trading for about a month, but it's been going really well.

"The public are becoming more and more aware of us and we have already won some high-profile contracts, including Hexham's biggest employer, Egger."

He said: "I've always been conscious of the environment, but it was my older brother Michael who really got me thinking green.

"He went to university in Ireland, where they are a bit ahead of us in doing their bit for the environment, and when he came back he converted the whole family, including me.

"Now we recycle everything and are always thinking of ways to become more environmentally friendly. For instance, all the rapeseed oil we use has already been recycled."

Ecocabs have three cars, silver Volkswagen Passats, but hope to add two more, and Matthew said: "We hope to expand quite quickly and would love to turn the idea into a nationwide franchise.

"There are about 3,000 taxis in the North-East, but just think of what we could do to help the environment if they converted their cars and came under our umbrella?

"Adapting cars to run on biofuel isn't as difficult or costly as most people imagine. It's just a matter of changing the fuel filters, so the car will run on plant-based oil.

"We plan to create a page on our website with free information.

"We're also using recycled stationery and business cards and hope it will encourage others to do the same."

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