Innovation to support residents charging electric vehicles at home

A trial scheme to make it easier for residents to recharge electric vehicles (EV) outside of their own home, is being introduced in West Suffolk.

West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet has set up an Environment and Climate Change task force and the council has declared a climate emergency.

The council has also been looking at innovative ways to improve the infrastructure for electric vehicles and already operates charging points in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Newmarket.

Now it has secured Government funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) for a new project which will provide EV charge points connected to lampposts for residents that lack off street parking.

The scheme will initially see 22 charge points across West Suffolk. Their use at each location will be monitored and if there a need is identified elsewhere, then the council can either apply to OLEV for more funding for more charge points, or relocate any that are being underused.

John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We recognise that the infrastructure for electric vehicles has got to get better in order to support residents and businesses in making it their choice. We also recognise that tackling climate change must be more than words. We have already worked to secure EV charging points, as well as investing in other forms of renewable energy including our solar farm and supporting businesses in reducing their carbon footprint through initiatives such as our solar for business scheme. All of this work has already seen West Suffolk named by Friends of the Earth as one of the top areas in the UK for tackling climate change and supporting the environment. But there is more to be done. This trial scheme on street lamps is designed to support residents in using electric vehicles and of course I welcome more ideas and initiatives coming forward as the task group gets underway.”

Electric vehicles are cheaper to run than petrol or diesel cars – generally fuel costs are a quarter of their fossil fuel equivalents. West Suffolk Council is using a supplier who uses 100 per cent renewable energy which delivers a significant carbon reduction compared to petrol or diesel vehicles as well as reducing other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide. By switching to EVs people are helping reduce air pollution which Public Health England says cost the country £42.88 million in health and social care costs in 2017.

Andy Drummond, Cabinet Member for Regulatory at West Suffolk Council, said: “The Government’s Road to Zero aims for 50-70 per cent of all new vehicles to be zero emissions by 2030 and to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the UK in 20 years’ time. At West Suffolk we are constantly looking at innovation to support our local residents and businesses. EVs are recognised as being cheaper to run, better for the environment and in turn better for the national economy. We are working with the Government to make the infrastructure that supports EVs better so to support people in their choice. This initiative will allow residents that lack off street parking to charge their electric vehicles during the day or overnight, even when the lights are off.”

Two of the charge points will be placed in Exning where local demand has been identified, while four will be installed in All Saints Car Park, in Newmarket, which is used by residents at night time and offers 24 hour access. The remaining 16 will initially be installed in Bury St Edmunds in Spring Lane, Out Westgate, Eastgate Street and the Southgate area – all locations where off street parking is not available and where lampposts are suitably located at the kerbside.

The lamp post scheme is being funded by £27,000 from OLEV and £9,000 from West Suffolk councils.

Matt Eastwood, Head of Transport at Energy Saving Trust, said: “We’re pleased to have played a role in West Suffolk Council being awarded On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme funding. The installation of 22 charge points will allow local residents to make the switch to low emission electric vehicles and provides a great example to other local authorities of the measures that can be taken to support the electrification of transport.”

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