The Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks explained that the priority of providing plenty of affordable car parking in towns to encourage visitors to spend time and money in town centres was based on sound research and data. However, it was becoming clear that there was a climate emergency and that the Council had committed to an action plan to help reduce the local carbon footprint. This was also a priority for the Council and in conflict with the priority of encouraging motorists to drive to town centre locations.
It was felt that there was an opportunity for EDDC to begin to contribute to the infrastructure for electric vehicle charging infrastructure locally. There could also be opportunities to consider whether the tariffs were currently fit for purpose and encouraging the behaviours that were required to see emerging to help tackle the climate emergency. It was agreed that the timing of any measures was critical.
The Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks suggested that there should be consideration given to a specific budget provision for the rollout of electric car charging infrastructure. A number of options were available across the industry and these were outlined in the Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks’ discussion paper.
The Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks reported that EDDC had been working with other district council partners in a collaboration led by DCC, to provide appropriate infrastructure across the region to underpin and encourage the use of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles locally. Current projects were:
1. DELETTI phase 1. Two fast charging bays to be provided in car parks in Exmouth, Honiton, Seaton and Sidmouth – 8 units in total – being delivered by a contractor and mostly funded through the European Development Fund. EDDC had committed £16,000 in total from existing budgets. There would be a financial return on the sale of electricity over the 10 year arrangement period.
2. DELETTI phase 2. Residential charging funded by an on-street residential charge grant fund. Officers would propose where appropriate charging point infrastructure could be installed, probably in the Green car park at Broadclyst, Brook Street Car Park Ottery St Mary and Lower Station car park Budleigh Salterton. There was unlikely to be an upfront cost to the Council. The phase 2 project was still at an early stage.
3. Exeter rapid charging project. An energy supplier (Gamma Energy) had successfully won funding from Innovate UK to work with EDDC and partners to supply, install and manage rapid residential on-street charge points. There would be no upfront cost to EDDC, with a 3% share of the increasing electricity revenue over a 15 year contract period. It was proposed that 20 50kW rapid charging units be installed and operated within East Devon, but time was critical so the authority was sought for the Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks to present an urgent report to Cabinet seeking authority to enter into the necessary leases without delay.
During further discussion the following points were raised:
· There wasn’t the need to invest lots of money upfront when providing electric charging points initially.
· If Council funds were invested then EDDC should see a return on that.
· Investment would be required to get what the Council wanted, where it wanted it.
· The public should not subsidise electric car users.
· There was rising demand for electric car infrastructure.
· There should be an even spread of electric car charging points across the district.
· DCC should be encouraged to improve its public transport infrastructure and use electric buses.
· The Government should be pressed to outlaw idling, particularly by buses in town centres.
· People stopping to charge their vehicles were likely to use the local facilities such a shops and cafes.
· Electric car charging points were critical to the survival of town centres. The convenient location of car charging points was a great method of regenerating town centres as people had to stop and pause whilst their car was charging.
· It could be a way of managing flow in short stay car parks.
· Trickle flow charges should be offered to those people who could not park and charge their cars at home.
· In London some lampposts had been converted to charging points.
· Charging provision for ebikes should also be considered.
· Consideration of electric car clubs and electric bike charging points would form part of the climate emergency response.
· There was a recognition nationally that the country would be using a lot more electricity and the challenge was how to balance that out as there was a move away from fossil fuels. The way people consumed electricity was going to change, with a much greater consumption.
· There was capacity in the National Grid.
· Double charging was very unpopular with electric car users.
· Electric vehicle users should be encouraged not to overstay and to leave their cars in the bay once it had been charged.
· Car parking tariffs had not been increased for 10 years and any increase in charges would not be to pay for electric charging infrastructure.
· Cranbrook Town Council had installed an electric charging point the previous day. It also leased an electric vehicle for use by the country park ranger. The Town Council did have a co-car, but it had been taken away through lack of use. However ebikes had proved very popular in Cranbrook.
· There was concern about overstaying charge points and whether a fine should be imposed. The Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks welcomed the Forum’s views on this and advised that an over-stay parking ticket was already in operation in Council car parks.
· There was lot of national dissatisfaction over charging points not working. EDDC would be in a stronger position by working in a DCC collaboration. They would not be dealing with companies with a poor reputation.
1. that the Car Parking Task and Finish Forum endorses the ongoing work with DELETTI phases 1 and 2.
2. that the Service Lead – Environmental Health and Car Parks present a report to Cabinet as a matter of urgency seeking authority to participate in the Innovate UK funded Exeter Rapid Charging project to install and operate up to 20 rapid charging units in EDDC’s public car parks this year.
3. that Cabinet also approve that EDDC should investigate the options for providing electric bike charging points and the provision of an ebike rental scheme.