THE owners of Milton Park near Didcot have thanked its businesses for braving the rain to take part in its annual Car Free Day.

The green travel initiative is organised by MEPC, the managers and developers of the Oxfordshire science and business park.

The Car Free Day challenges businesses from across the park to encourage their employees to travel in greener and more sustainable ways to work.

This year's event last month saw nearly 400 workers take part, and winning businesses were selected based on the percentage of their overall workforce participating in the initiative.

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Veronica Reynolds, sustainable travel advisor at Milton Park, said: “We want to thank all of the people who made the extra effort to take part, despite the rain.

"This year 375 people participated, and we hope to exceed 500 next year. We also want to congratulate the travel representatives who I work with on the Milton Park Travel Forum. Every representative made an effort to encourage their colleagues to take up the challenge.

“We hope events like Car Free Day will have a ripple effect across the park, making people think about the way they commute to work on a daily basis. On days like Car Free Day it really shows that an active commute is a happier commute.

"As part of our recently launched 2040 Vision we are developing additional initiatives to encourage greener forms of travel, which will also help to encourage more sustainability activity across Milton Park.

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“As always, a big thank you to our occupiers, without whom none of this would be possible.”

MEPC awarded a total of £1,500 to the three winning companies with the most green workers, which will be donated by the winners to the charities of their choice.

The winners were chosen across three categories; small company (under 30 employees), medium company (up to 100 employees) and large company (100-500 employees).

All three of this year's winning firms received £500 from MEPC to donate to their chosen charities.

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Innovation Centre tenant NorthRow was the winner of the small company category with 95 per cent of its staff taking part. Pharmaceutical group Ipsen won the medium-sized company category with 47 per cent of staff participating, including a group who walked from Abingdon.

Drug delivery specialist Evotec secured first place in the large company category, with 21 per cent of staff adopting green forms of commuting.

Milton Park’s Car Free Day is one of a series of measures that have been introduced across the park to help improve traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in the area.

These initiatives have encouraged carpooling and cycling to the park in an attempt to reduce the most polluting car trips.

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Milton Park has seen the numbers of single occupancy car trips decrease from 70 per cent in 2016 to 63 per cent in 2018 and further reductions are expected this year.

This year’s Car Free Day saw a significant uplift in participation from across the park, compared to last year’s event.

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This led to the creation of a third category and resulted in an additional £500 donated to charity. Additional green initiatives will take place across Milton Park in coming months as part of MEPC’s continued sustainability commitment.