In accordance with Standing Orders, written answers to these questions will be tabled at the Council meeting.
(A) Question from David Healey
What is the Council doing to make electric car charging spaces and facilities accessible in town and residential areas, noting the government requirement for all electric and hybrid cars by 2030? Will a task team be appointed to see the rollout for facilities in the residential areas, on request, for those without off street parking? There are extensive Government grants available for up to 75% and even more funding has just been added. A joint team from the environmental and transport portfolios should work on a master plan.
Council received one question from a member of the public relating electric vehicle charging points. The response to the question had been published in the supplementary agenda for the meeting. The questioner (Mr David Healey) was present in the meeting, and asked the following supplementary question:
“As the Council has committed to being more green, and has allocated funding for electric vehicle chargers, and the fact that some Government funding is available:
1. As part of this and other schemes, has the Council considered the potential in residential areas to install smaller, cheaper and more accessible lamp post chargers, as seen in other Council areas?
2. And when considering the location of these chargers in neighbourhood areas, has the Council considered those locations not only based on the electric grid, but also based on where there is current demand from residents (such as creating a list of requests/register of interests)?”
The Portfolio Holder for Economy, Enterprise and Transport replied by referring back to the Government’s “Road to Zero” Strategy, published three years ago, which stated how it was proposed to support the transition to zero emission road transport. Policy 27 of that Strategy alluded to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill 2018, which provided powers to provide a uniform method for accessing public refuelling points.
The Portfolio Holder advised that, as a consequence of the above Bill, Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) published an Electric Vehicle Technical report in September 2018. Section 6.9 of that report touched on the issue of the retrofitting of electric vehicle charging points in existing homes and homes with on-street parking. The Government recognised the challenges faced by local authorities in implementing such equipment, not least due to the infrastructure constraints. The HCC report went on to recommend a note of caution, particularly when investing in charging points, given the speed in technical innovation and the likelihood of some chargers becoming redundant.
The Portfolio Holder referred to the adopted SBC Parking Provision and Sustainable Transport Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Sections 5.1 to 5.4 of that SPD referenced electric vehicle charging points, particularly with regard to new development. The SBC Future Town, Future Transport Strategy (in Sections 5.52 to 5.55) recognised the increase in electric vehicle usage, and an action embedded in the Strategy endorsed the implementation of more charging points, as part of a combined initiative with HCC.
The Portfolio Holder drew attention to the SBC Climate Change Strategy (September 2020), which informed that the National Committee on Climate Change, which advised the Government, had stated that there should be one electric vehicle charging point for every 1,000 cars by 2030. For Stevenage, this would mean 42 chargers on SBC-controlled land, against the current total of 10 such chargers. He agreed, therefore, that there was clearly a need for a much faster transition to electric vehicles, which would mean the installation of many more charging points to those currently provided.
The Portfolio Holder concluded by referring to the questioner’s suggestion in his original question regarding a Joint Task Team, and advised that SBC officers were working very closely with their counterparts at HCC. He was confident that when funding and infrastructure issues were addressed the Council would be able to move forward.