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Formula 1 star Eddie Irvine buys island in Bahamas

By Linda Stewart

Petrolhead Eddie Irvine is starting to exude a distinctly green hue.

The Co Down-born former Formula One star appears to be slowing down his racy lifestyle by creating an eco-friendly retreat on the island paradise he has just bought and eyeing up green transport at the Bridgestone Eco-Rally in Brighton.

Once a jet-setting playboy, Fast Eddie now insists he wants to leave as small a footprint as possible on the 1km-long strip of land in the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas, an ecologically sensitive island paradise he is believed to have paid around £1 million for.

Instead of building a garish, American-style beach on the island, he will opt for an eco-friendly hexagonal wooden structure with few modern conveniences.

“The Exumas are getting destroyed by Americans who are coming in and building Palm Beach-style houses on the most gorgeous islands in the world,” he said.

“My thinking is, ‘Why go to the Bahamas to build Palm Beach? Why not just stay in Palm Beach? They are totally not in keeping with the surroundings.”

Mr Irvine spotted the islands while flying over the Bahamas on his private jet from his Miami base. Islands range from £500,000 to £83 million, depending on size. Neighbours in the island belt will include actors Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage and Eddie Murphy.

The former racing driver, ranked the fifth richest Irish sportsman in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List with an £80m fortune, said his house will have no windows, just mosquito nets and shutters that will minimise any damage in a hurricane.

It will be equipped with a compost toilet operated by hand pump and will have no television or fridge. Solar energy will provide a small amount of power for lighting and a computer.

“I want to make as small a footprint as possible. I will not be having a generator on the island,” he told the Sunday Times. “There are people out in the Bahamas who spend a million bucks a year on diesel to run the generators. It’s insane. At night when it gets dark you go to bed. When it gets light you get up.”

He also hopes to grow some of his own food on the island and catch fish.

“I won’t be eating much steak, that’s for sure,” he added.

The businessman says he recently sold off his fleet of sports cars, including four Ferraris, and is considering selling his yacht, the Anaconda, currently moored in Portafino, Italy. He plans to hold on to his private jet so that he can travel between America, the Bahamas and Ireland. His 14-year-old daughter Zoe lives in Bangor.

The racing star has also just been to the Bridgestone Eco-Rally, which showcases the use of alternative fuels.

“Making a car go around a circuit half a second quicker is not as relevant today as it was 20 years ago,” he said.

“We’re going to have to get clever and that is why Formula 1 is not my passion any more, because it ain’t clever.”

When Irvine sweeps up to a roundabout these days he takes his foot off the pedal earlier and tries not to use the brakes — he also pilots his aircraft at the optimum speed for fuel efficiency.

“It’s easy just to blast around the world using up everything. I will always be frugal because I enjoy being frugal. It is a game, doing everything with as little as possible. The more careful we are now, the longer we will be able to enjoy what we enjoy,” he said.

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