A Hexham-based taxi and minibus company has undergone a green transformation in a bid to make it the most eco-friendly transport service in the North East, with support from Lloyds Bank.

EcoCabs is an eco-friendly taxi and minibus company with a fleet of more than 30 electric, hybrid and low emission taxis, people carriers and minibuses that operate across Northumberland. The business, founded in 2006 by Matthew Kirkby, is the largest taxi and minibus business in South and West Northumberland and was one of the first companies to run its fleet on biodiesel.

While the pandemic caused unprecedented disruption for EcoCabs and the transport industry, the firm decided to use its time during lockdown to invest in the business to enhance its green credentials.

To support its ambitions, the business approached Lloyds Bank and received a £70,000 funding package. This has enabled the business to accelerate renovation plans for its main workshop and add sustainable drainage, as well as an on-site grey water recycling plant. New solar panelling has also been installed to help recharge the electric fleet – a measure that has taken the business 100% off grid.

EcoCabs also used the lockdown downtime to replace all remaining diesel taxis with electric or hybrid cars to help propel the business’ drive to attain net zero status – something it hopes to achieve by 2025.

Alongside these green transformations, the business has continued with its forest initiative in Northumberland – a commitment to plant a tree after every customer review to help further offset the firm’s carbon footprint. After acquiring a forest in the local area in Northumberland, 1000 trees have now been planted and the business expects to plant greater numbers as business picks up again post-lockdown.

Matthew Kirkby, managing director of EcoCabs, said: “Since day one, I’ve strived to make the business as sustainable as possible and to really understand the green technology needed to support my ambitions, I studied courses in decarbonisation and environmental science.

“While the pandemic was disruptive, it gave us the opportunity to press ahead with our sustainable ambitions and the support from Lloyds Bank has put us in a position to achieve our green ambitions.

“The changes we’ve made have helped us to make great progress towards attaining net zero status. In the coming weeks we’re hoping to implement a new system that will enable us to internally recycle our own plastic and commercial waste in the near future to further minimise our environmental impact.”

Elaine Gill, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “The North East’s green credentials have gone from strength-to-strength over the past few years and firms like EcoCabs are playing a driving role in cutting our region’s carbon footprint.

“We’ve worked with Matthew and the EcoCabs team for a decade now and have seen the firm continually innovate to become more sustainable, while maintaining a first-class service for customers.

“We’re proud to have helped the business realise its green ambitions and with COP26 on the horizon, we’ll continue to stand by firms across the region as they work to cut their carbon emissions and make sustainable changes.”