WITH petrol and diesel prices at record levels and set to rise further, Scottish Borders Council is set to spend £105,000 adding three electric cars to its fleet.
TheSouthern can reveal that SBC’s executive will be asked to approve the purchase of the eco-friendly vehicles under a Scottish Government pilot scheme when it meets next Tuesday.
And, if the go-ahead is given, staff in the social work department, one of the largest car user groups within the local authority, will use the vehicles to visit clients.
An advance model of the Citreon C-Zero, which was launched at the end of last year, was delivered to council headquarters at Newtown last week and test driven by delegates at a climate challenge conference at Tweed Horizons on Saturday.
And elected members will get a similar chance this week before considering a report from SBC’s head of major projects, Robert Young.
He will urge them to take advantage of a grant of £105,000 from the Scottish Government’s low carbon vehicle procurement scheme after a bid for the funding, prepared by fleet manager John Martin, was successful.
The cash, which must be spent by March 31, will purchase three of the electric cars – priced at £30,000 each – along with a small network of three charging stations – one per vehicle – costing £5,000 each.
It takes around six hours to charge up an electric car, which gives a maximum range of 80 miles before recharging is required. The typical running cost is 3p per mile, compared to the current cost of around 40p.
Approval of the pilot project looks a formality given the support voiced this week by council leader David Parker and Councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre, executive member for the environment.
“The offer of a grant from the Scottish Government is very advantageous for the Borders as it would let us install charging points in public areas, placing our region in a good position for the future,” said Mr Parker. “Although the cars are more expensive, this project will enable us to assess how efficient and practical electric cars can be and hopefully demonstrate how they can contribute to efficiencies in the future, particularly when the cost of low-carbon transport comes down.”
Mrs Riddell-Carre told us: “We are at the beginning of the era of electric cars – the transport of the future – and it is excellent that the council is able to use this grant to promote sustainable transport and allow us to make savings in the essential services delivered by our social workers.”
Councillor Frances Renton, executive member for social work, said her department was “more than happy” to engage in the initiative and support “the first initial steps in developing an electric car infrastructure in the Borders”.