Are council friends electric when it comes to cars?


Tuesday 15 June 2021 7:30

By Daniel Hill

WHEN it comes to a question of getting to rock down to electric avenue Newry, Mourne and Down District is just out of the medal winning ceremony in fourth place for public charging points in Northern Ireland.

In a report issued by the Department of Transport it has been revealed that the district has 31 public electric car charging points available falling behind Belfast, Fermanagh and Omagh city councils, respectively.

While this may seem like a reasonably admirable statistic, when compared to the rest of the UK which is embracing the so called “green industrial revolution” that has been introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Northern Ireland as a whole still has a considerable amount of ground to cover to catch up with its counterparts in Britain.

For example, there was a record increase in demand for electric car home charging grants across the UK in 2020, according to figures from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles. However, the combined value of grants in Northern Ireland amounted to just £1,283,779, with Belfast claiming the most at £193k followed by Ards and North Down at £174k and Lisburn and Castlereagh patrons claiming £173k.

Grant claims have not been evenly sought-after, with Northern Ireland having proportionally half as much take-up at 319 per 100,000 households.

By contrast, the south east of England leads the UK for the highest percentage of devices under the Electric Vehicle Home charge Scheme (EVHS), with 735 per 100,000 homes.

Furthermore although Boris Johnson aspires to such lofty goals as having the production of all cars that run on fossil fuel cease by 2030 with up to £2.8 million worth of taxpayers money being earmarked for invest in the infrastructure that will support the predicted increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads, currently Northern Ireland has nowhere near as many charging points to support any substantial increase in the number of electric vehicles with only an abysmal 327 of the total 35,000 public charging points throughout the UK located in NI.

Commenting on the lack of infrastructure necessary to support any increase in the amount of electric vehicles on Northern Irish roads, the founder of the price comparison website Compare NI, Greg Wilson believes a “pay to charge” scheme may be necessary to incentivise more people to make the switch to electric motors.

“Easy access to recharging points is crucial to meeting the government’s ambitious targets for electric vehicle use, but there is much work to do here in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Wilson.

“The Electric Vehicle Agency in NI recently announced that broken chargers were making people less inclined to convert to electric vehicles.

“In fact 60% of those surveyed were considering a return to fossil fuels, suggesting a pay-to-charge solution may be the answer.

“Historically, insurance premiums may have been part of the problem, with higher premium costs taking into account the unique parts and specialist mechanics, but as electric cars become more mainstream and a growing number of insurance providers enter the electric car insurance market, we expect the average cost of insuring electric cars to fall steadily.

“The use of a comparison website such as ours, will help drivers compare quotes and find the most competitive premiums available,” he added.

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