Plans for up to 160 electric vehicle charging points as Harrogate prepares for "game-changing" technology

Up to 160 new electric vehicle charging points could be built around the district in the next five years.
Up to 160 new electric vehicle charging points could be built around the district in the next five years.
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Harrogate councillors have been told of ambitious plans for up to 160 electric vehicle charging points to be installed around the district in the next five years.

It's one of the key points of the council's proposed ultra-low emission vehicle strategy, which cabinet member for sustainable transport Phil Ireland and council's strategic transport planner Tom Horner presented to overview and scrutiny committee members on Monday.

A rough map proposing where the charging points could go. Brackets with two figures indicate a minimum and maximum number of proposed sites. Picture: Harrogate Borough Council.

A rough map proposing where the charging points could go. Brackets with two figures indicate a minimum and maximum number of proposed sites. Picture: Harrogate Borough Council.

“What we've tried to come up with is a very realistic strategy that puts us in the best position to react to the changing technology," Mr Horner told the assembled councillors.

He said that a range of "game-changing" electric vehicles are due to come out this year, costing in the vicinity of £30,000, which could see low-emission vehicle use grow drastically in the region.

“Basically we have to be prepared for this to change quite quickly," he said.

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“There is a chance this could really escalate (and) there’s a chance for us as a council to support that infrastructure.

“It starts to get a lot more realistic."

The proposed strategy includes a plan to provide 61 public charging points across the authority in the next five years, subject to demand and funding.

However, the council says the number of new charging points could increase up to 160 during that time period if required.

These public points will be supplemented, according to the report, by encouraging and potentially incentivising the installation of charge points on third party land such as at supermarkets.

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However, several councillors voiced their concerns about drivers in rural areas - with the proposed map of charging sites only including two charging points east of the A1, both in Boroughbridge.

"The problem is in rural areas if you're running low on charge, that's when you start to panic," Coun Victoria Oldham said.

“If you can't charge, and you know you can't charge (in a rural area), what do you do? Abandon the vehicle?”

Coun Sue Lumby responded, saying that making sure a car had enough charge was akin to making sure a traditional vehicle had enough fuel when travelling in the countryside.

"Isn't it the driver's responsibility?" she said.

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Mr Horner clarified that the proposed sites were "an indication", with the development that is set to occur in the east of the district having the potential to include charging points.

“The wider network is pretty much a moving picture at the moment...(the plan is) flexible with where they could go in the future," Coun Ireland added.

Coun Ireland also revealed the council had "seriously looked at" installing charging points at Harrogate's west park when it was refurbished it, but this was decided against when it was found that it would have required a new substation in the vicinity, at a cost of £300,000.

Mr Horner said that the future provision of electricity for chargers wasn't an issue limited to Harrogate, but an increasing pool of national funding could be tapped into over the next five year.

"Grid supply is going to be a significant national issue in the future," he said.

Committee chair Philip Broadbank agreed and likened it to a “similar situation when petrol cars first came out...things will change rapidly”.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporting Service