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Less advantaged areas often have more homes without access to off-street parking. It is important that these types of residential pockets are identified within planning to ensure that public charging infrastructure solutions are developed to serve and support these areas. These solutions are likely to include a mix of on-street chargers and chargepoints within public car parks. Ensuring that everyone has access to charging infrastructure is a key priority for the Scottish government as part of their just transition plan.

  • As electric vehicle registrations continue to grow, local authorities are receiving increasing numbers of requests from residents to install on-street charge points. There have been various strategies developed to manage these requests. Many local authorities have a dedicated webpage for people to suggest locations for new chargepoints. If the request is declined, the council provides an explanation of the reasons why. This type of system can however be quite resource intensive.

    While it important to acknowledge, track and analyse such requests, it is recommended that decisions on locations are informed by the wider strategy for the area, and where possible, staff who take these decisions have adequate knowledge and/or experience of operating electric vehicles.

    A complementary strategy is to ensure the local population is fully aware of the public charging infrastructure already in place, as this can remove some unnecessary requests for additional on-street chargepoints. This approach means widely publicising any new public charge points that have been or are soon to be installed. Dundee City Council is one example of a local authority that has publicised the existence of new public chargepoints, using maildrops and media campaigns.

  • Rather than charging on-street near their home, some electric vehicle drivers may prefer to top-up their charge when they are out and about, fitting in with their normal routine.

    Several of Stirling Council’s recent public chargepoint installations have been located in areas experiencing deprivation. The council has opted to install chargepoints within existing community assets, such as leisure centres and community centres. These locations were selected because they satisfied several key criteria, including council land ownership, ease of access, good lighting, and high levels of footfall.

    This approach has been common across local authorities for selecting some of their initial sites. Falkirk council is an example of another council that has opted to install public charging infrastructure at community assets. In this case, the council has installed a charging hub at Falkirk football stadium. The hub forms part of Transport Scotland’s electric A9 project. Since installation, there has been a marked increase in the number of new users accessing the local network. The hub also includes battery storage and solar canopies above the chargepoints.

    Whilst community assets are one possible location for siting chargepoints, it is important that chosen locations fit into the wider strategy of any local development plans and the expected usage profiles of the area. As such, any site should be assessed to ensure that it delivers good value. Some community sites may not be appropriate if, for example, it is in a rural area far from housing, or if located alongside a school, which could lead to increased traffic and deter active travel for kids’ everyday journeys.

    Increased private sector involvement in Scotland’s charging infrastructure might look to capitalise on other destinations with a high footfall, such as commercial areas with supermarkets, retail and hospitality.

  • As highlighted, less advantaged areas typically have fewer homes with off-street parking. From a charging infrastructure perspective, local authorities can take steps to address the potential social inequalities that might arise.

    North Ayrshire Council, as an example, have tried to adopt a policy of fairness when deciding where to locate public chargepoints. This policy simply looks to achieve a wide geographical spread of chargepoint provision, ensuring public chargepoints are accessible to as many users as possible. This policy could potentially be developed further by providing additional infrastructure in less advantaged areas.

    By focusing on achieving a balance of on-street charging and deploying chargepoints at council assets such as sports and community centres, East Lothian Council are leading the way amongst local authorities with the highest percentage of households with no off-street parking living within a five minute walk of a public chargepoint (42.8%).

  • Those who can charge at home can also take advantage of cheaper charging costs compared to the tariffs on the public charging network. In part, this is due to the 20% rate of VAT applied to public electric vehicle charging, whereas only 5% VAT is applied to domestic electricity. Energy suppliers are also now offering special tariffs for charging at home which encourage people to charge during the night when electricity costs and grid carbon intensity are at their lowest. This provides an even greater incentive for people to charge at home, rather than on the public network.

    There are however projects that are now exploring the option of offering cheaper charging tariffs on public charge points at different times of day in accordance with lower demand, and higher renewable contributing periods. Agile tariffs that vary the charging cost for users over the course of the day have been well received by local authorities involved in the initial test projects. This is discussed in more detail in the Agile Streets case study. Flexible pricing, that also enables consumers to reduce the carbon intensity of their charging, is therefore something that charge point developers could potentially look to include in projects.

  • In less advantaged communities, private vehicle ownership is often lower and those who do own vehicles often have older, more polluting ones. There is a greater reliance on public transport to complete journeys. Mobility hubs that are well-connected to active travel routes from residential areas can give residents access to a suite of onward travel options including various forms of public and shared transport, including car club vehicles.

    Car clubs offer the benefits of access to a vehicle without the high upfront costs of EV ownership. Car clubs provide socially inclusive, low emission mobility which helps to break dependency on private car ownership in all social groups, and they can play a significant role in meeting wider targets, in particular the 20% car kilometre reduction target. Each car club car replaced 17 private cars in Scotland in 2021 (see the CoMoUK Car Club Annual Report Scotland 2021) and car clubs are already ahead of the curve on shifting to EVs – 18% of the car club cars in Scotland are already fully electric, compared to less than 1% of private cars overall.  EV car club vehicles also offer an effective way for drivers to gain familiarity and confidence with EV driving. This will also be useful for those who may need to own a vehicle but are waiting for the upfront cost of EVs to decrease, and for a cheaper second-hand market to develop.

    You could help to identify locations in or close to the residential areas most in need. Ideally these car club vehicles would be electric, with supporting charging infrastructure installed for their exclusive use.