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Opposition councillors fail to stop price hike for Highland electric vehicle chargers

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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Motorists face a significant rise in the price of using the council's electric charging network.
Motorists face a significant rise in the price of using the council's electric charging network.

Highland Council will press ahead with plans to increase the price of electric vehicle (EV) chargers by 130 per cent.

This follows a failed attempt by the Liberal Democrat opposition to stop the price hike.

Councillor Richard Gale led a motion to today’s Highland Council meeting following “outcry” from Highland electric vehicle drivers.

Cllr Gale, along with former climate change committee chairwoman Trish Robertson and councillor Angela Maclean, called on Highland Council to perform a U-turn on the increase.

They said the price hike “serves as a significant disincentive to promote the use and indeed the purchase of electric vehicles in favour of fossil fuel powered vehicles”.

Instead, they called on Highland Council to agree a more modest 10 per cent price rise.

Their motion was up for debate today.

However, convener Bill Lobban said the motion was not competent because it sought to reverse a decision made by the economy committee only one month ago. That is not allowed under Highland Council standing orders.

To get around this setback, Cllr Gale asked councillors to suspend standing orders, and press ahead with his motion, but lost that vote.

The new tariff will see Highland Council fast chargers cost 70p per kilowatt hour – up from 30p – and slow chargers will go up to 35p.

Members of the economy and infrastructure committee voted in February to apply the EV tariff rise.

It followed a detailed report from council bosses, which set out that the council could not maintain the network at current prices.

The Highland EV charging network was previously maintained by Transport Scotland, but that subsidy is coming to an end.

As such, Highland Council said it needed to charge more to pay for repair and maintenance.

Separately, while discussing council performance earlier in the meeting, new chief executive Kate Lackie underlined the need for a price increase.

She said private sector providers are currently priced out of the market by the cheap council chargers.

Increasing prices, she said, would allow commercial operators to come in and boost the EV charging network across Highland.

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