ECO-FRIENDLY villagers are gearing up to get behind the wheel of their very own electric car.

Residents in Ashton Hayes have just welcomed the arrival of a Nissan Leaf electrical car – making the village one of the first in the country to have its own eco vehicle.

From July 3, all villagers over the age of 18 can hire out the five passenger vehicle, which features air conditioning, satellite navigation, a rapid charge socket and internet connectivity, for a journey of up to 100 miles.

The car’s arrival comes after a £200,000 grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which was awarded to Ashton Hayes under the Low Carbon Communities Challenge earlier this year.

The grant not only paid for the cost of the vehicle, but has also funded a sports pavilion on the village’s sports and recreation field, where the car will be housed.

The pavilion’s roof is covered in solar panels so it can generate its own electricity, and the village car can be charged from the building.

It was back in 2006 that the Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral project began, after villager Garry Charnock enlisted the Parish Council’s help to try and reduce the village’s carbon emissions.

The community has since managed to bring the amount down by 25% in just two years, after making subtle changes such as using low energy light bulbs and switching off appliances when not in use.

Garry, who was the first to test drive the car shortly after it arrived in Ashton Hayes, said that the community is ‘delighted’ with its new addition.

“Everyone is really excited about the car, and we’ve already got advanced bookings for it,” he said.

“People have seen the car and think it looks great. Our biggest problem in Ashton Hayes is the lack of community transport so this is a positive thing for the village.

“For example, a lot of students and young people don’t all have cars so the fact they can come home and drive a car for just a few pounds an hour will be great.

“There is still a lot to learn about it, we are pioneers effectively, and as a village we need to work together to make it a success.”

The profits made from the hiring of the car will be reinstated back into sustainable projects within Ashton Hayes.