Number of miles to be saved in challenge is out of this world

GOING GREEN From left, Gosport deputy mayor Richard Dickson, Havant mayor Ken Smith, Fareham mayor Trevor Cartwright, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cheryl Buggy and Andy Harris, director of a company called CAL who were winners of last year's challenge.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (120704-1)
GOING GREEN From left, Gosport deputy mayor Richard Dickson, Havant mayor Ken Smith, Fareham mayor Trevor Cartwright, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cheryl Buggy and Andy Harris, director of a company called CAL who were winners of last year's challenge. Picture: Paul Jacobs (120704-1)
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SPACE travel might not be the most fuel-efficient way to commute so the appearance of an astronaut was purely symbolic.

But Andy Harris donned the silver suit to help launch this year’s crusade to persuade workers to ditch their cars for a week to help save the planet.

LAUNCH Big Green Commuter Challenge

LAUNCH Big Green Commuter Challenge

In the 10 years since The Big Green Commuter Challenge was launched, entrants have saved 403,321 car miles.

And last year Mr Harris’ firm CAL won by cutting the most car miles.

This year the challenge aims to boost that total by more than 74,000 miles to 477,710 miles – the distance to the moon and back – hence the spaceman.

Mr Harris is a director of CAL, the Portsmouth-based management consultancy which won the small organisation category in last year’s competition.

His firm saved 338 business and personal miles in 2011. He said: ‘I might have looked a little bizarre in the costume, but if it helped get the message across that this year we could hit that to-the-moon-and-back target, it will all have been worthwhile.’

The 2012 event runs from Monday, May 14, to Sunday, May 20, and for the first time Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport and Fareham councils have all signed up.

The campaign was the brainchild of the city council’s travel plan officer Amanda Morris, who was inspired to launch it in Portsmouth a decade ago after spotting a similar scheme while on holiday in Canada.

She said: ‘We’re asking all organisations in the area to join the mission and help us get to the moon and back. If you run an organisation or business, large or small, you can take part. If you work somewhere, get your boss interested.’

The challenge is a competition to reduce car use, congestion and emissions.

Workplaces compete against each other to see which one can reduce the most congestion and pollution by cutting their car miles. People taking part are encouraged to get to work by walking, cycling, taking public transport, sharing a car, working from home or riding a motorbike.

At the launch yesterday Amanda added: ‘The challenge is a chance to get organisations doing something real for the environment, not to mention easing parking problems, encouraging a healthier workforce and cutting congestion.’

You must enter by May 4. More information from The Big Green Commuter Challenge website.