BURGESS HILL, UK, 29 November 2022– Edwards, the leading supplier of vacuum and abatement products, services, and solutions for the global semiconductor industry, is backing plans to create a traffic-free path to help more of its employees travel sustainably and safely to its site in Clevedon. Edwards is one of the largest employers in Somerset, with offices and a factory in Clevedon employing 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. 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.
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.
Cyclist and local resident Sue Cooper leads an action group who are supporting these ambitious plans, The Strawberry Line 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. This month, it’s hoped the various parties will agree a plan targeting a 2025 completion.”
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.”