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Green campaigners back ban on two-stroke engines

Two-stroke motorcycles could be banned within 15 years (File photograph)

A Government plan to ban high pollution two-stroke motorcycles and change its fleet to electric vehicles in a bid to cut emissions was yesterday backed by environmentalists.

But the owner of the Bermuda Transport Museum warned the ban on two strokes could create more problems than it solved.

David Wingate, a conservationist who called for the change at the start of the year, welcomed the Government’s “very ambitious goal”.

He admitted there would be opposition – but that he “wholeheartedly” supported the move because “our global situation is very, very serious”.

Dr Wingate said: “Our global situation is not only bad but really, really grave and I don’t think most people realise how rapidly things can spin out of control and become impossible to fix.”

He added: “I think this initiative would probably be the most important thing we could do locally.”

He appealed to the Government to look at the introduction of more renewable energy sources like solar and wind power and better battery storage for green power.

But Paul Martins, the owner of the Transport Museum in Dockyard, said that the Government was “barking up the wrong tree”.

He added that other two-stroke engines such as those landscaping equipment, caused more pollution than motorcycles.

Mr Martins said that a two-stroke ban would have to include them to be effective – but would only cause problems.

He added: "Everybody wants to fight against two-stroke bikes, but everybody’s grass has to get cut and weed trimmers and chainsaws are all two-stroke.

“Try telling the landscapers they can’t go to work because they can’t use their equipment – I’m sure that’ll go over well.”

Mr Martins was speaking after the Government announced plans to reduce the island’s contribution to climate change.

A spokeswoman said the Regulatory Authority also planned to reduce the use of fossil fuels by 85 per cent by 2035.

Details about when or how the ban would be implemented were not given.

But Mr Martins said that there were very few two-stroke motorcycles on the island and that a ban on them would not make much of an impact.

Mr Martins added that lithium batteries, although reliable, also damaged the environment.

He said: “For these people who are avid about this and want to go electric, they should realise how much the lithium mines that build these electrical vehicles are depleting the earth’s surface.

“It takes so much to build an electrical vehicle and people have to think about the carbon footprint on that.”

Mr Martins suggested that owners of two-stroke motorcycles should be “grandfathered” under proposed legislation so they would not have to lose their bikes.

He said: “Everyone who owns one of those bikes probably put a lot of money into restoring them.”

But Eugene Dean, the chairman of the environmental group Greenrock, backed the drive to cut pollution.

He said a reduction in the island’s carbon footprint would take “a lot of initiatives like this”.

Mr Dean added the impact vehicle emissions had on the environment was often “greatly overlooked” in Bermuda despite being the biggest contributor to the island’s carbon footprint.

He added that a move away from two-stroke vehicles was feasible and that electric vehicles were a good fit for the country.

Mr Dean said: “We feel that Bermuda is an ideal location for transitioning to electric vehicles primarily because of our size – most people don’t have a very long commute.”

He added: “For larger vehicles like trucks and things of that nature the technology is still coming online, but all of that is happening really quickly so we should see huge transitions from a manufacturing point of view within the next five years.”

“The positive thing is that it ultimately benefits everyone – the road users benefit from zero emission vehicles and it benefits the broader community through less pollution, but it’s also great for the environment.”

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Published April 23, 2021 at 1:10 pm (Updated April 23, 2021 at 1:18 pm)

Green campaigners back ban on two-stroke engines

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