A Sutherland councillor is taking the Highland Council to task over its electrical vehicle (EV) charging fee structure, claiming it is not only “chasing tourists away” but goes against the authority’s own green agenda.
East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor, Richard Gale, chairman of Sutherland County Committee, has highlighted the £1 a minute surcharge imposed on electric vehicle drivers, should they exceed the 45-minute charge time when using council charging points.
Initially, no information was given on the council charging points to inform drivers of the overstay charge, although this has since been rectified.
Speaking to the Northern Times, he said: “This surcharge is totally and utterly unacceptable and not to tell people they were going to get it is beyond the pale.”
“I am really upset about the way Highland Council have gone about this. I am a real supporter of electric vehicle charge points and people should pay for the electricity they use, but they are being driven away by this arbitrary charge.”
He is now calling for the policy to be reviewed as a matter of urgency and has complained to Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson and Trish Robertson, chairman of the economy and infrastructure committee, but so far with no response.
The authority introduced tariffs at its electric vehicle charging points from June 1 in order to recover costs associated with the operation and upkeep of the network.
The tariff is 30p per kWh for journey chargers (43kW+) and 20p per kWH for destination chargers (22kw or less).
The £1 per minute surcharge is applied after 45 minutes plus a 15 minute grace period. There is also a 30 minute no-return period.
The surcharge first hit home for Cllr Gale, a former CAB manager, when development group Go Golspie, of which he is a board member, were charged an additional £30 for its e-car after exceeding the 45-minute time allocation.
He said that 45 minutes was not long enough as it took on average an hour and a half to fully charge a car. Motorists were being inconvenienced by having to make two visits to a point for a full charge.
Councillor Gale said: “The main issue is the fact that we are encouraging people to go electric when they buy a car which complements the Highland Council aim of being carbon neutral by 2025, but at the same time we are chasing them away from chargers with this unacceptable surcharge.”
“Forty-five minutes is simply not enough time to charge a mobile phone, never mind a car. It is the same as going to the petrol pumps and being told to leave with half a tank of petrol. It just doesn’t make any sense and I have asked for this policy to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.”
Cllr Trish Robertson told the Northern Times: “The approach taken by Highland Council is fully endorsed by the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland (EVAS) and designed to enable the council to support and maintain the service but also to encourage best practice amongst users at charge points.”