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Highlands' big push for electric vehicles accelerates

By Neil MacPhail

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Electric car at charging point in Farraline Park, Inverness.
Electric car at charging point in Farraline Park, Inverness.

HIGHLAND Council’s ongoing commitment to tackling the climate emergency through its electric vehicle (EV) programme is attracting national interest.

The council has been contacted to provide information for an article highlighting the performance of local authorities across the UK in terms of EV provision.

The council is part of the Local Authority Installation Programme (LAIP), which is funded by the Scottish Government to further develop the EV public charging network so that EV drivers can confidently travel throughout Scotland – in both urban and rural locations.

It has been awarded more than £3 million since the first EV charge point was installed in 2012.

The council has an existing programme to instal around 50 additional charging points across a number of sites during 20/21, the vast majority of these are either completed or in progress on site.

It released its first EV Infrastructure Vision in September 2020 which was led by members and outlines the council’s direction of travel. It will form part of a wider strategic control plan designed to allow a refreshed approach towards EV infrastructure delivery and planning.

Chairwoman of the council’s climate change working group, Cllr Trish Robertson, said: “The continuation of our commitment to providing EV charging points across the Highlands is a key part of our responsibility in addressing the climate emergency.

"The Scottish Government has pledged to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans across Scotland by 2032 so it is important that the work we have started continues and people are confident that making the change over to EV vehicles is a practical option as well as one that will help to reduce our impact on the environment.”

To encourage the use of EVs, a promotional campaign was undertaken involving Highland schools in 2019/20. Younger children submitted entries to design a logo for the side of the Highland Council electric vehicle used by the climate change team, and older children submitted entries to design a logo for charging points. The logos and signs are being deployed around Highland.

Council Leader Margaret Davidson added: “Here in the Highlands we face unique geographical challenges but the small dedicated project team we have are very proactive when it comes to delivering and supporting the many strands of associated works.

"For example, they have supported various requests for assistance channelled through the planning process which has resulted in us producing our own planning guidance for new residential developments ahead of national policy.

“This policy along with our strategic control plan which is in development, will help to accelerate EV infrastructure delivery by improving the early planning and management of projects, making the roll-out more effective and integrated with other low carbon transport plans in Highland.”

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