Despite the Government’s trepidation regarding the execution of its own plans to reduce the country’s carbon emissions, work at the local level continues apace. West Sussex Country Council has picked up an award of £5.5 million from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles and will be putting it to good use, with plans to install up to 1,000 additional public charging points in the country in the near future.
What marks this project out as being particularly smart when it comes to the application of funding to a specific green target, is that they will be using part of the budget for infrastructure and works, to put in place the structure necessary for an additional 400 chargers in the future. All of which could save the public a lot of money.
A report from Connected Kerb less than a year ago, highlighted the results from the UK’s first-ever trial of smart metered on-street electric vehicle (EV) chargers (as part of ‘Agile Streets'). It demonstrated that smart charging at public charge points could save drivers over £600 a year compared to traditional non-smart public charging. That's the equivalent of a country-wide, collective saving of more than £4 billion a year by 2030.
We all know the inconvenience that can be caused by roadworks, especially on smaller sections of road, so its smart to put in additional cabling etc while you have the road open – ready for new charge points in the coming years.
Additional funding is coming from Connected Kerb, which will install the points themselves and operate the charge point network. This is the kind of Public/Private partnership that can help stretch limited budgets a lot further – to the advantage of local residents and businesses.
This phase of charger installation will involve around 230 physical locations.
Although both Connected Kerb and West Sussex Country Council have their own ideas on the best locations, a substantial research and consultation process is underway to ask almost a quarter of a million local households which spots would be best for local communities.
Councillor Joy Dennis has lived in the area for more than 25 years and she has been instrumental in putting this installation project together – not only in her local role, but also as the area’s representative on the Transport for the South East committee.
She told media, “This grant funding is excellent news for the residents of West Sussex. Working in partnership with our supplier, Connected Kerb, and our borough and district council partners, it will significantly bolster our existing scheme to make on-street charging more accessible for residents who do not have off-street parking and boost our efforts to enable sustainable transport options across West Sussex”.
Strange how some of her comments appear to contrast with recent policy shifts from Downing Street, “Carbon-neutral travel supports our ambition of building a sustainable and prosperous economy and aligns closely with the underpinning theme of tackling climate change in Our Plan.”
Joy Dennis’ team has said that, at present, vehicles in West Sussex largely rely on fossil fuel propulsion, but the Government has confirmed that the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the near future. Electric vehicles are expected to have less environmental impact than those they will replace and although the take up of electric vehicles and use of charging infrastructure is increasing, it is not currently doing so fast enough to achieve the Government’s objectives.
The County Council’s Electric Vehicle Strategy is intended to address this issue by increasing the availability of charging infrastructure in places where on-street parking is prevalent and significant progress is being made to achieve this. However, there is uncertainty about the pace of change and future consumer behaviour. Therefore, this Plan will need to be flexible to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour (including other technologies, such as hydrogen, if they emerge) and travel choices over time. Worth bearing in mind the county’s proximity to Harwich International, Newhaven, Dover and Portsmouth ports.
The emergence of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles may start to influence transport network operations during the life of this Plan. At this point, it is very unclear what technological changes may be required to transport network infrastructure to facilitate their use and in what timescales. This could also potentially offer opportunities to generate income; therefore, the County Council will continue to monitor progress in this area to position itself to take advantage of opportunities if they arise. Good to see a local council starting to consider how autonomous driving electric vehicles might represent a revenue opportunity. The world is changing and revenue streams will need to evolve quickly to keep pace.