Electric vehicles still need to pass viability test in rural areas – Paul Andrews

ONLY a few years ago, Ryedale and my ward of Malton were threatened by fracking.

This would have meant a grid of drill pads every one and half to two miles in every direction, and was clearly not in the interest of local residents or local businesses, particularly those engaged in the visitor economy.

It would not have been possible to defeat this threat without the support of environmental activists.

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During the campaign I came to understand and respect their views.

How can use of electric cars be enhanced in rural areas?

So I welcome all the Government’s green initiatives.

I had this in mind when, last year, I decided to change my car.

It seemed a good idea to go electric.

So I made enquiries, and tried driving one. It was advertised as having batteries with a range of 250 miles.

What more should be done to encourage the use of electirc cars in rural areas?

It turned out that the actual range was more like 130 miles, but this did not worry me, as it would have been all I needed for local running about, and for long journeys on motorways, it was not a bad idea to stop every 130 miles or so for a coffee.

So far, so good.

Then I found out that the battery was not only part of the car, but had to be rented. So the second-hand car I was looking at was in fact on offer on a part-ownership basis.

The rent payable depended on monthly mileage. So, for an annual mileage of 7,000 miles, the monthly payment exceeded £70.

This drastically reduced the cost savings of going electric.

The car I looked at was second hand, but apparently some new electric cars are now sold without a battery rental.

So, I enquired about hybrids, and bought one. It does between 45 and 60 miles to a gallon, and averages about 56 miles to the gallon on motorway-type roads.

This has been a huge saving on the fuel consumption of my old car.

I am retired, and to my surprise, I was actually able to buy it new. A new electric car which had no rental for its battery would have cost upwards of £5,000 more.

I wonder how many more people think like me.

We are not climate-change deniers.

We want to keep the planet safe for our children and grandchildren, and we don’t want to inhabit a dying world.

However – particularly now after the Covid crisis and Brexit – the future seems less certain than ever before, and our income has been under severe strain.

So, we put off the long-term, and allow short-term necessities to concentrate our minds. It’s all very well for the Government to press ahead with grandiose ideas and ambitious targets to impress the media, but there has to be a credible plan.

Everybody should benefit from cleaner air and renewable energy, but this should not be at additional cost to the consumer.

Banning the making of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles after 2030 is not appropriate, if the result is to make travel more expensive for business or the poor.

If the authorities want us to use electric vehicles, the cost of buying and running electric vehicles needs to be made attractive.

We should be encouraged and not forced to go electric, and we need to see the green revolution justified in terms of cost-savings and other advantages for the consumer.

Most renewable energy comes free: it is the processing and storage of energy which is expensive, and we already have the technology to convert sunlight and wind into energy and store it.

I look forward to a world powered mainly by renewables, and hope my next car will be electric.

Paul Andrews represents Malton on Ryedale District Council. He is an Independent councillor.

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