Improving Arran’s Electric Vehicle Charging Capacity

A report by Kenneth Gibson, MSP

Electric vehicles have become a cornerstone of the strategy to move to net-zero carbon emissions, both in Scotland and globally.

In December 2020, Scottish Ministers announced that the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from 2030, two years earlier than previously planned. This is part of a national effort to meet Scottish Parliament targets of cutting emissions by 75% by 2030 and to net-zero by 2045.

In 2021, however, electric vehicles are still some way from being “mainstream.” They remain expensive compared to their fossil fuel counterparts, and have a reputation for being slow and difficult to charge. Particularly in rural and island Scotland, such as Arran, there are understandable concerns about the number and availability of charging points, with only five currently on the island.

The Scottish Government recognises that electric vehicles and their charging points must be reliable, easy to use, and, of course, affordable. To achieve this, there is support available for individuals, businesses, communities and Local Authorities.

Scottish Ministers provided over £30 million in grant funding to Scotland’s Local Authorities between 2012 and 2020 to help establish a comprehensive electric vehicle charging network. The ChargePlace Scotland network has grown from 55 public charge points in 2013 to over 1,500 in 2020. 70% of publicly available charge points on the ChargePlace Scotland network are outwith Scotland’s large urban areas, and 40% of points serve small towns, rural and island communities.

As well as an increasing number of public charging points, there is support available from a variety of sources to make it easier to install your own at home. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provides grant funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installation at domestic properties.

The Energy Saving Trust also provides funding for the installation of domestic charging points. Applicants can claim £350 towards the cost of a home charge point and Energy Saving Trust will provide up to £250 further funding on top of this. Those in the most remote areas of Scotland can claim an additional £100. Separate funds are also available to support the purchase of electric vehicles and e-bikes.

Businesses looking to encourage the use of electric vehicles may wish to consider the Workplace Charging Scheme. This is a voucher-based scheme that provides support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of charging points, for eligible businesses, charities and public sector organisations.

Local communities are encouraged to apply for the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which can fund the installation of vital infrastructure and supports collaborative projects that focus on improving the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland/ Electric vehicle charging points are recognised as a key component of fulfilling this aim.

The key to improving accessibility of charging points – and with it the feasibility of electric vehicles – is widespread cooperation. In addition to financial support, ministers are working with industry leaders, experts and consumers to explore and overcome other accessibility barriers.

In February Scottish Ministers announced a £210,000 investment to do just that, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise. As well as increasing charging station numbers, they have been briefed with finding solutions to tackle the issue of “ICEing” – where a non-electric vehicle parks in a charging bay and stops others from charging – and improving disabled access to charging stations.

Creating a sustainable, affordable and efficient transport system will be a vital part of Scotland’s transition to a net zero carbon economy. This is a multifaceted and complex task, and facilitating the use of electric vehicles is just one part of it. However, together with the rest of The Scottish Government’s climate change plan, it represents the first steps towards a truly carbon-neutral economy.

Further information on the grants mentioned can be found in the links below. I am happy to provide any advice needed throughout the application process.

Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-low-emission-vehicles#electric-vehicle-homecharge-scheme

Energy Saving Trust:

Domestic charge point funding

Workplace Charging Scheme:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-low-emission-vehicles#workplace-charging-scheme

Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund:

https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/rural-tourism-infrastructure-fund