West Lothian Council plans 300 EV charging points within 3 years

Thursday September 14th 2023

Midlothian Council EV Charging Point

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Stuart Sommerville

Ambitious plans to roll out a network of West Lothian Council owned EV charging points across the county have been revealed.

West Lothian Council proposes developing almost 300 more charging points within the next three years.

But councillors heard that EV charger use has plunged since tariffs were introduced in February. And many drivers of conventional cars ignore EV charging bays and take the parking space.

Peter Rogers, the council’s Energy & Climate Change Manager, unveiled the draft Public EV Infrastructure plans to the Environment and Sustainability Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP).

There is a 60/40 percentage split between private and public funded charging points which need to be developed to meet expected growth of EV use by the end of 2026.

To achieve the 40% West Lothian plans 294 charging points at 148 sites.

Mr Rogers added in his report that the majority would be on council owned land: “Locations include car parks, leisure centres, community centres, partnership centres and schools.”

He added: “Should all the identified sites be delivered, it is estimated that 67% of households in West Lothian who do not have access to off-street parking would be within a reasonable walk of a charge point location, compared to a current figure of 23%.”

Within the next three years the council plans to have 10% of spaces in council owned car parks for EVs, and more than half of households with no off-road car parking will be within a reasonable walk – at most a quarter of a mile- of a charging site.

Basic fees for charging are scheduled to rise by 10p kWh in November. However an additional change, brought about in response to feedback received from EV drivers locally, is that the current time restriction of 180 minutes on fast chargers is removed for sessions starting after 20:00 and ending before 08:00.

This will provide a direct benefit to local residents without access to their own charging facilities by allowing them to charge overnight.

Representing the Forum of Community Councils Pippa Plevin asked if developing large charging hubs such as at Falkirk and Stirling had been considered.

She added that drivers of conventional cars now ignored the EV charging places in car parks, including at Linlithgow: “Water Yett is one of the worst ones for people just parking when they’re not even electric cars,”

Mr Rogers explained that the large hubs were more related to adjacent motorway development, and privately provided EV charging stations. The council idea is to widen availability and encourage the growth of EV use.

Additionally the council is to bring in Traffic Regulation Orders which would make it an offence for a conventional vehicle to park at an EV point

Labour’s Kirsteen Sullivan said: “I think it’s a good thing that we have sites throughout the county.

“Some of our communities are quite rural and fairly isolated and people often rely on their cars, so I think in order to support the move to electric vehicles it is really important that people have the opportunity to charge their vehicles and especially in those areas where there isn’t off street parking and people are very limited in their options.

“I think making sure we have a good spread throughout the country is really important from an accessibility point of view and also in terms of promoting and supporting the use of electric vehicles.”

Funding to develop the Plan has been provided by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund (EVIF). EVIF is jointly managed by Transport Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and aims to at least double Scotland’s public EV charging network by 2026.

An additional £44,935 has been made available to the council in 2023/24 to support the delivery of the plan.

A total of £30m of Scottish Government funding is being made available for the fund with the intention of drawing in a further £30m from the private sector.

The PDSP agreed to recommend the Draft EV Infrastructure Plan to the council’s Executive, along with an increase in tariffs from 1 November of 10p per unit rate/kWh.

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