By Bill Heaney
The mystery of what happened to half a dozen electric vehicles purchased by the SNP administration as a vanity project before the international Cop26 conference may soon be solved.
The current Labour administration, elected last May, today issued a statement which said that a new tariff for use of Council-operated electric vehicle charging points in West Dunbartonshire will be introduced from June 1.
That there has been none of these in operation before now is a head scratcher since half a dozen of these expensive vehicles were spotted sitting out through all weathers in the council car park at Aurora House in Clydebank.
Today we have been told in a press release that the Council has subsidised the cost of electricity usage from its chargers since 2016, kick-starting the shift towards more sustainable electric vehicles.
The release does not say, however, how many electric vehicles the council itself has or what they cost to purchase, or if the fleet at Aurora House was ever put to council use.
It does say that though that in the past three years there has been a significant increase in demand for use of the Council’s 12 electric charging points, as well as soaring usage, and the introduction of a tariff will support the Council to cover operational costs as well as maintain the public network.
The new tariff has been set at 40p/kWh for slow and fast charge points and 50p/kWh for rapid charge points. Users will be required to pay a minimum fee of £1.00.
A maximum stay of one hour will also be introduced for rapid charge points to ensure drivers move on from the space as soon as their vehicle is charged.
The new tariff brings West Dunbartonshire in line with most other local authorities in Scotland and will mean the Council no longer absorbs the cost of the rising demand for electric vehicle charging.
In 2022, there was a 600% increase in connections to the Council’s EV chargers compared with 2021, and almost double the amount of electricity used. In the first four months of this year, usage has already almost exceeded 2021 levels, but no actual numbers are disclosed.
The cost to the Council for providing this energy as well as maintaining the EV charging ports since 2021 is £125,000.
Labour councillors David McBride and Lawrence O’Neill an electric vehicles in the council car park at Aurora House in Clydebank.
Councillor David McBride, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “I’m really encouraged to see so many across West Dunbartonshire embracing the use of electric vehicles as this will undoubtedly reduce the area’s carbon emissions, and also aligns with the Council’s own ambitions of becoming net zero.
“We continue to support the growth of electric vehicle ownership, and the introduction of this tariff will ensure that the infrastructure for charging them can continue in a financially sustainable way.
“The tariff will allow the Council to recover the cost of energy as well as the maintenance of the charging points to ensure they are accessible for drivers.”
Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, Vice Convener for Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “Our network has supported more than 30,000 free charging sessions for emission-free driving since 2021, which is fantastic and has helped encourage the shift to electric vehicles.
“It is so positive to see electric vehicle ownership and demand for EV charging increasing, as electric vehicles will be a key part of reducing transport emissions in West Dunbartonshire.
“With this rise in demand in mind, the new tariff will allow the Council to cover the cost of this and make it possible to keep this infrastructure going in a way that does not impact upon other Council services.”
The Council’s Electric Vehicle Charging points are part of the Charge Place Scotland network, and a full list of their locations and tariffs can be found on their website or via their mobile app.
Residents and visitors can check the real-time availability of each charger through Charge Place Scotland before attending to charge their vehicle.
- If there is anything not quite clear to readers in this story then it will be because the Council refuse to speak directly to The Dumbarton Democrat but has directed us to make a Freedom of Information request which can often take a month or more to get an answer. That is if we get one at all. Democracy is a fragile flower which is being left to die in Dumbarton.