You may spot the Rangers driving around in a new blue van. We are the very proud owners of a Piaggio big-deck pick-up which is being supplied to us by Bardon Aggregates as part of the planning agreement (called a Section 106). We chose this lightweight 4x4 because we need something that is environmentally friendly, can access all parts of the site without carving up the footpaths or disturbing the wildlife and can be used on the roads between our sites. We looked at an electric version, but this would not have the range or power required to whizz off to the Great Fen up the A1 or carry gravel down to Barford Road Pocket Park.
Of course the main purpose of the provision of a van is to enable us to manage the extended reserve created by the gravel extraction and restoration process. This very week we are working with Bardons (known now as Aggregate Industries) and their contractors, Neil's Plant, to landscape the shores of Pumphouse Pit before the water level returns to normal, just in time for the 2009 bird breeding season. The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve are part-funding this work which is above and beyond the planning agreement.
Although the public are not yet admitted to this area, it is vital that staff and volunteers can get up there regularly to prepare for opening day. This van seems adequate for the job.
We have not yet decided whether or not to put logos on it, and HDC will be putting out an official press release at some point, but until then we are zooming about with hay, sugar beet, tools and bird food in our blue van.
This 4x4 model is petrol powered, has an extra big deck, a tow hitch and a cover to keep the load dry. Before you get too jealous, it doesn't have a radio or CD player and cab-space is very tight, but it's what we need.