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An innovative e-scooter trial is one step closer to becoming a reality, as North Devon Council has been granted the right to a licence by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The council, working closely with Petroc and e-scooter company, Voi Technology, had submitted a proposal to pilot e-scooters in North Devon. The DfT granted the license this month and plans are afoot to run a trial in Barnstaple starting as soon as 2021.

The scheme aims to tackle rural transport challenges in the district, particularly improving access to Petroc, which sees an average of over 4,000 pupils travelling to the main campus in Sticklepath in each week. The trial will also enable the council to better serve and manage the increase in population from visitors in the tourism season; helping tourists to move around without causing additional traffic, congestion and pollution.

Lead Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at North Devon Council, Councillor Malcolm Prowse,  says: "We are pleased that we have been granted a licence agreement and we look forward to working with Voi and Petroc to take further positive steps towards a successful trial phase. This includes addressing the safety concerns and needs of other road users, especially vulnerable groups. Close planning and collaboration with Devon and Cornwall Police will also go a long way to ensuring the safety and viability of the trial over the 12-month period. "

Vice Principal at Petroc, Bill Blythe, says: “We are delighted that the Department for Transport have recognised the opportunities that this pilot could bring to North Devon. We look forward to working with the council to develop this proposal to a successful launch in the New Year and the benefits it will bring to students, staff and the wider community.”

Co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, Fredrik Hjelm says: “We are excited to be bringing Voi's e-scooter service to the beautiful coastal area of North Devon. I believe rural areas can benefit from this new green mode of transport, particularly those with large student or business campuses or with seasonal influxes of population. I am confident residents and visitors will enjoy this new liberating form of transport.

"E-scooters are a safe, low-carbon way to move around and a great alternative to car journeys. As the pandemic continues people are keen to find new ways to go about their journeys and e-scooters are a great socially distancing option.”

Voi currently owns 80% of the UK e-scooter market share, with trials in six cities, including  Northampton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cambridge, Bath and Bristol, and more to be announced soon. With headquarters in Stockholm, Voi operates in more than 50 cities across 11 countries, has over six million users, and has served over 30 million rides.