Wrexham Council are set to approve plans to install electric vehicle charging points as part of an initial two year phased programme of works that could see 10 points across the borough.
We are told around 3500-4000 people have electric or hybrid vehicles in Wrexham County Borough, and across the UK the number of electric cars went from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 130,000 by the end of December 2017.
Lead Member for Place – Environment and Transport, Councillor David A Bithell set the scene for the future of car usage in town: “If you park say in Waterworld, you pay your fee and if you have one of these electric or hybrid cars you can plug in, and there is then a charge for the electric. My understanding is the charge for the electric is very very low.”
Phase 1 will be focused on Council operated car parks, with the £132,500 cost funded through the Council’s existing cash limited carbon budget which is supplemented from ‘green’ revenue, and a second phase subject to Welsh Government grant funding that would be focused on sites of ‘strategic transport importance’.
19 sites have been assessed alongside Scottish Power who understand the existing power capacities and suitability for connection to the network – and as a result the five sites selected are:
– Waterworld Car Park
– Ty Pawb (old Peoples Market carpark)
– Ty Mawr Country Park
– Alyn Waters Country Park
– Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (Trevor Basin).
The report before councillors notes: “For Phase 1 of the project we have taken the decision to install the Fast 7kW chargers, as these are the most cost effective and can connect to the grid for a lower connection cost. We have also based this decision on the concept of destination charging, as the car parks we have chosen for the installation are where EV drivers are planning on staying for around 2-4 hours, either for shopping, leisure or tourism. The 7 kW chargers also support this concept. Each Charging point can charge 2 cars simultaneously, therefore approximately 1 charging point will utilise 2 parking bays.”
Welsh Government have allocated a £2m pot for this type of roll out across Wales, and Wrexham is looking to get £180,000 via an application. If successful the second phase would happen and Wrexham Industrial Estate – Redwither Tower, Llay Industrial Estate, Ruabon Train Station, Chirk – Glyn Wylfa and Wrexham Bus Station would get the charging points. Cllr Bithell told us he was ‘hopeful’ of getting Wrexham’s share of the £2m fund from Welsh Government.
The charging points will be via a third party supplier who will install and manage the ongoing operation of them. Through this model the Council will maintain ownership of the infrastructure and the charging points allowing for further expansion and development of the network in the future.
Cllr Bithell added they had been speaking to Wrexham Council about electric buses, and seemed keen for future bus station developments
Top pic: © Oast House archive shot of a car charger in an Ikea car park
We asked Cllr Bithell if he had an electric car, and if not, would this type of facility make it more likely for him to get one in the future.
Cllr Bithell explained he is currently not driving an electric car, although Wrexham Council do have two, but was keen to point out the BlueMotion VW is very energy efficiency. Explaining how by 2040 there is a UK wide phase out of petrol and diesel cars it would be something he is looking at in the future, as will all drivers eventually.
“We have had representations from a number of people to install these points, and unless there are the facilities to charge it could be hard to purchase one. So Phase 1 of this is to promote the move to electric, with a mix of our and Welsh Government money to do it. It won’t happen overnight, but 2040 is the national agenda so we have a bit of time yet.”
Wrexham Council have two Nissan Leaf vehicles that are charged at the Abbey Road point, but are of older technology. Cllr David Kelly who spoke from a motor trade background pointed towards the work by Tesla on electric cars and battery technology, “There has been issues around the life of batteries and the cost of replacing them, if you can. But battery technology is moving so fast, so in four to five years time you will not be looking at the same vehicles that you are now. If you look at Tesla, they are making performance electric cars, it is unbelievable, it is such a fast changing market.”
Council Leader Mark Pritchard said: “We in Wrexham are leading the way, now is the time for this to come and we are not waiting for Welsh Government, we are spending our own money. We have to start now, the electric car is the future and diesels and petrols of this world will not be around.”
“I know Welsh Government will have to come back in the future with more money, £2m divided between the authorities is not a lot of money, they are dipping their toe in the water. They will need to come back and seriously look at this.”
“What we have to do is start now to make sure we have the charging points for the demand.”
“We are telling people outside of Wrexham we have charging points, and hope that this will boost the economy as well.”
“Come to Wrexham, see Wrexham, spend some money and also charge your vehicle at the same time!”