No more free charges for electric vehicles

Scottish Borders Council will next week be recommended to rubber-stamp the introduction of a fee for charging electric vehicles across the region.

By Kevin Janiak
Friday, 21st January 2022, 1:54 pm
Councillors are set to vote on scrapping free electric vehicle charging in the Borders.
Councillors are set to vote on scrapping free electric vehicle charging in the Borders.

A condition of earlier Transport Scotland grant funding for electric charging points was that they were free to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

That condition has now been removed and Scottish Borders Council, alongside other local authorities, can consider introducing such a charge.

In 2020 the cost to the authority of providing free charging was £33,296.

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And when members of the full council meet on Thursday, January 27, they will be asked to endorse a new charging regime.

Scottish Borders Council’s electric vehicle infrastructure consists of 22 chargers across 16 different towns and villages; of which the majority are rapid chargers.

Neighbouring local authorities have already introduced charges.

Charges in Midlothian and East Lothian are 30p per kWh journey with a minimum £1 charge.

Dumfries and Galloway has adopted a 25p per kWh fee for all chargers with a £1.50 minimum top-up.

Scottish Borders Council is planning to adopt the Midlothian and East Lothian model.

In a report to the committee, John Curry, the council’s director of infrastructure and environment, says: “The proposed pricing structure will encourage people who have the ability to charge at home to do so, while also helping to ease pressure on the public charging network.

“It will also create an environment that encourages commercial operators to invest in the installation of charging infrastructure within Scottish Borders.

“Based on the usage figures for 2020 this gives a potential income in the region of £75,000 a year, creating a surplus of around £22,000 a year to contribute towards maintaining the current infrastructure.”

The switch to a fee-charging regime was anticipated at December’s full council meeting by Hawick councillor Davie Paterson, when he posed a question on the issue.

He said: “While welcoming all moves to encourage car drivers to move away from the use of fossil fuels and increasing the use of any fuel that does not in any way harm the environment, when this administration is having to make yet more cuts to balance the books why are they still allowing the free use of electrical vehicle charging?”