Hitrans, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, has delivered £1.5 million in funding for rapid charging.
The cash will be used to install a network of 24 rapid charging points on the west coast of the Highlands and Islands to break down the main barriers to ownership of electrical vehicles in rural communities.
It intends to employ two new members of staff to deliver the project, which has attracted Euro funding and support from the Scottish Government. Units will be installed in Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles at locations yet to be confirmed.
Hitrans has tapped into a European collaboration to help deliver the Facilitating a Sustainable Transition to Electric Vehicles in the Regions (FASTER) project. It is a project supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
The project will assist with analysis of the planning and procurement requirements needed to kick start a commercial charging service. Ireland and Northern Ireland are included in the project partners.
FASTER aims to ensure that the availability of charging stations is not a major obstacle to EV market penetration, with the proposal to carry out the design and analysis, procurement, installation and operation of 73 rapid chargers (50KW capacity) across the 3 countries.
It will also provide an additional supportive, enabling environment for suppliers and consumers and provide increased confidence and reassurance in regional commitment to the emerging EV market.
Lochaber Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of Hitrans, said the FASTER project was the latest in a growing number of environmentally-friendly European projects that Hitrans was involved in.
He said: “We are committed to delivering practical projects which contribute towards the greening of transport in our diverse and rural area. FASTER will share best practice for deploying charge points and promote sustainable transport in the region. We are leading on the design and procurement work package, and it is expected that we will install 24 rapid charge points or more if budget allows.”
He said preliminary work has been conducted on possible locations for the chargers through the Hitrans EV Strategy, and discussions were ongoing with Transport Scotland and project partner Strathclyde University (engaging with SSE Networks) to ensure locations were chosen wisely and in line with grid capacity and existing infrastructure.
Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said: “I’m delighted to see this innovative and collaborative project receive support. Climate change is an international issue and we will only be able to combat it through international cooperation, such as the INTERREG VA cross-border programme. This project will bring together Hitrans and the University of Strathclyde with partners from Ireland and Northern Ireland to make cleaner, greener transportation more accessible across the three nations.
“This will further Scotland’s journey to accessible and sustainable transport infrastructure fit for the future – and it is particularly welcome to see investment that will have a real contribution to enhancing the capacity and resilience of the electric vehicle charging network across rural areas.
“These additions to the ChargePlace Scotland network will undoubtedly have wide reaching benefits, not just for local communities, but for tourism and other businesses as we continue to support a shift to more environmentally friendly modes of travel.”