New electric car charger for Thornbury - but area is 'lagging way behind' others in region

July 29 2020
New electric car charger for Thornbury - but area is 'lagging way behind' others in region

A NEW electric car charging point in Thornbury will form part of a network to make it easier for drivers to make the switch to the new technology.

The fast charger, to be installed in the St Mary Street car park, is expected to be able to charge a typical electric car in between one and six hours.

South Gloucestershire Council says work started in July to add 14 charging points to its network of facilities available for all electric car drivers, with the first new ones ready to use in November.

But the authority has been criticised for having the lowest number of electric vehicle charging points per person in the region.

Liberal Democrat councillor Adrian Rush cited the figures at a recent meeting of South Gloucestershire Council, soon after the Conservative-led council announced its plans to install 14 new EVCPs.

The district has 59 public charging points able to charge one or more electric vehicles at a time, according to the government figures from April, which were published last month.

However, only 20 of these were funded by the council, according to a spokesperson for the local authority. The rest were paid for privately.

Cllr Rush, who represents Chipping Sodbury and Cotswold Edge, said: “The problem is that, even with the 14 new points, we’re lagging way behind in the provision of electric vehicle charging points.

Our figure is 21 charging points per 100,000 people. Now, even sleepy Cornwall’s got 36. Some of the other local authorities are well into the 200s.

When are we going to catch up with better local authorities?”

The Department for Transport figures, sourced from the electric vehicle charging website, show that South Gloucestershire’s 21 public charging points per 100,000 people compares with 24 in Bristol, 29 in Bath and North East Somerset, 36 in Cornwall and 38 in North Somerset.

But with 24 of South Gloucestershire’s charging points having at least one connector of 43kW or above, its rate of “rapid” charging points is 8.5 per 100,000 people, compared with 1.6 in Bath and North East Somerset, 4.1 in Bristol, 4.8 in Cornwall and 9.3 in North Somerset.

Cllr Rush demanded answers about the situation at this month’s full council meeting on July 15 and again at a meeting of the scrutiny commission on July 22.

He said: “I don’t understand how we got into this state, to be quite honest with you.

But it isn’t actually just the council that’s not supplying them. It’s basically the big companies that supply electrical charging points. 

We’ve got only, I think, four or five company-based electrical charging points in South Gloucestershire from the big boys.”

Cabinet member for transport Steve Reade acknowledged that South Gloucestershire had a “long way to go” in terms of EVCPs and said he always raised the matter with developers.

He said: “I do recognise the need that we have to have more charging points, and that is well and truly on my agenda, to promote more charging points.

When I have conversations with developers, it is something on my agenda to discuss with them that they do have due consideration for electricity charging points as part of the development.” 

It has been just over three years since the council installed any new EVCPs in South Gloucestershire.

Figures provided by the council show it funded the installation of 20 charging points, with one or two bays each, across 14 locations between 2012 and 2017.

These were installed for “public and business use”, with some located at business sites such as Hewlett Packard and Friends Life/Aviva, according to a council spokesperson.

The first five of the 37 new charging bays that went in across the five-year period were installed at the Bristol & Bath Science Park and were a mixture of standard and rapid-charging points. The rest, which included charging points at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway and Longwell Green Leisure Centre, were fast or rapid-charging.

The first of the 14 new charging points should be ready in November. The showpiece hub will be at the Bristol & Bath Science Park in Emersons Green, where five rapid chargers of 43kW or more, which can charge electric vehicle batteries in between 20 minutes and an hour, will be installed along with one 7kW to 22kW fast charger, which takes between one and six hours.

Two charging points, including one rapid charger, are being installed at Yate Shopping Centre West car park, with other fast chargers to go into Cecil Road car park in Kingswood, Haynes Lane in Staple Hill, Laburnum Road car park in Hanham and The Parade, Epney Close in Patchway.

All 14 are due to be up and running by the end of March next year, wityh the Thornbury charger expected to be ready by November.

The facility at Emersons Green, described by the council as a "flagship West of England charging hub", will also feature a solar canopy to generate electrical power. The council plans to eventually install 12 charging bays there.

Council cabinet member for transport Steve Reade said: “We want to encourage greater use of electric vehicles and will be continuing to implement new schemes to upgrade and enhance the public charging network, REVIVE.

“It’s hoped that these improvements will give residents and businesses the confidence to invest in electric vehicles over the coming years and in turn to help lower carbon emissions.

"There are a range of benefits from electric vehicles, including improved air quality and economic benefits."

The REVIVE network will involve creating 40 recharging bays across South Gloucestershire, Bristol and B&NES, with funding given to the Go Ultra Low West partnership by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

The council says it plans to support charging points in other areas including Mangotsfield, Cribbs Causeway and Frampton Cotterell and is working with the private sector to increase coverage. 

More information about the scheme can be found online.