A proposal to invest £233,000 of taxpayers’ money into launching a public electric vehicle charging network across Richmondshire looks set to win cross-party support.
Richmondshire District Council’s scrutiny committee will consider a plan to create 18 charging points as a “starting point” in increasing the number of places where electric vehicles can be charged in less than two hours across the 1,319sq km area and to learn lessons before expanding the network in the future.
To achieve both a spread across the district and respond to potential demand hotspots, a report to the council proposes four charging points at Hawes, Leyburn and Richmond and two each at Muker, Catterick Garrison and Langthwaite.
The move follows the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps writing to local authorities, urging them to take advantage of funding to build up their electric car charging infrastructure and to increase local access to chargepoints for drivers.
Mr Shapps said: “Your postcode should play no part in how easy it is to use an electric car, and I’m determined electric vehicles become the new normal for drivers.”
A government league table of public electric vehicle charging points per council area found Richmondshire to have among the country’s least, at 17, but among the country’s highest per resident, with the equivalent of 32 per 100,000 population.
If the Richmondshire proposals win council approval, work to install the charging facilities will start in September and is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year.
The report states while 2018 saw 12,000 electric vehicles registered across the Yorkshire and Humber region, pressure is growing on councils to provide charging facilities.
It adds: “With a fast developing market it is inevitable that a review will need to be undertaken within five years which may call for the renewal or upgrading of our charging infrastructure.”
While the chargers will cost about £32,000, the biggest cost in the project would be a £97,000 Northern Power Grid connection charge to all the sites, which would be in council car parks.
The project will be funded from the council’s reserves as the cost exceeds the £100,000 which has been set aside by the authority for “green measures”.
Councillor Ian Threlfall, deputy leader of the council’s Conservative group, said while the council’s reserves were “depleting rapidly”, his group was likely to support the proposal brought forward under the Independent, Liberal Democrat and Green coalition as it would represent a key improvement for the area’s infrastructure and an environmental gain.
He said while it appeared a realistic amount of electric charging facilities had been proposed, he questioned plans to offer electric vehicles free parking during charging, saying there would be less incentive for their owners to move their vehicles.