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Electric car charging woes spark call for Highland Council to install more stations in capital

By Philip Murray

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A person charging an electric vehicle.
A person charging an electric vehicle.

MORE electric vehicle charge points could be installed in and around the Highland capital, the local authority has said after eco-conscious motorists complained about a lack of public chargers.

One Highland motorist, David Body, contacted the paper to complain that people with no easy way to charge their cars at home were being poorly served by a relative lack of rapid charge facilities in the Highlands.

He stressed that although Inverness has a number of charging facilities, too many are either incompatible or offer too slow a charge speed for them to be readily used as a vehicle's main source of power.

And he said the issue had come to a head over Easter, when the rapid charge point in the city's cathedral car park was out of order for several days.

"Where I live it is not easy to charge the vehicle from the house and I have been relying on the rapid charger at the city's cathedral car park," he said.

"This is the only rapid one in Inverness and [it was] out of use for three days, over a holiday weekend, with no real alternative. Heaven help anyone travelling to visit the city from afar looking to charge their car to return.

"Why is the infrastructure so bad in the city when at Golspie I discovered they have two rapid and one slower charger? And Dingwall has four!"

He explained that not all charge points were suitable either, continuing: "There is a bank of Tesla chargers at the Old Rose Street car park but these can't be use by other non-Tesla vehicles.

"For a modern progress city like Inverness this shows very little foresight.

"I appreciate that the Charge Place Scotland chargers are free to use but with the rapid increase in electric vehicles in the city it is getting hard to find the one and only charger vacant. Once tourism picks up I imagine it will be a lot worse and will not persuade people to go green with their cars.

"We are trying to do our bit to save the planet but Inverness seems to be dragging its feet where electric vehicles are concerned.

Responding to such complaints, Highland Council said that it already runs more than 50 public charge points in the region and that more than 40 additional sites were "in progress" – with even more planned for the future.

But they also stressed that the council's public network "is not intended to be the sole provider of charging infrastructure" and urged people to keep an eye on ChargePlace Scotland's interactive map for the latest updates.

The spokesman added: “ Highland Council was awarded funding for a project which included adding EV charging provision in Inverness city centre.

"In recent months, a revision to the project scope has been submitted by Highland Council for consideration by the external funder (this includes an increased number of EV charging points in and around Inverness). If the revised proposal is accepted, the project would re-commence with a completion date before the end of 2022."

They added: “To meet future demand, EV charging provision is expected to evolve into a combination of home, workplace, public and private network infrastructure.

"Technology, operating models and configurations are developing at pace; the profile of how EV users choose to charge their cars will change over time. The Highland Council (or any other local authority) network is not intended to be the sole provider of charging infrastructure; many other charge points owned by public/private parties are available around the region to the public and this is expected to increase.

"We would recommend that EV users keep a look out on the ChargePlace Scotland map for updates on all charging points available to the public.”

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