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Will Highland Council U-turn on controversial price hike for electric vehicle chargers?

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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Councillors are being asked to limit an increase in charging for electric vehicles.
Councillors are being asked to limit an increase in charging for electric vehicles.

Highland Council will vote this week on whether to cancel plans to increase the cost of electric vehicle chargers by 130 per cent.

Three Liberal Democrat councillors have tabled a motion to overturn the earlier decision, which more than doubled the cost of using council EV chargers.

Instead, they want the council to agree to an inflation-level price rise of 10 per cent.

Highland Council decided just a month ago to increase its electric vehicle charging tariffs. They say this is necessary to maintain and extend the charging network.

Under current plans, the fastest EV chargers would go up from 30p per kilowatt hour to 70p.

Slower "destination" chargers will cost 35p/kwh, but for many Highlanders these sluggish chargers aren’t practical for travelling from A to B.

Critics say the price hike makes it more expensive to drive an electric car than a petrol one. A calculation on AV price comparison site Zap Map seems to back that up.

Driving a Nissan Leaf electric car on the 110-mile journey from Inverness to Thurso using the fast chargers would now cost £28. Under the previous charges, it would have cost £12.

By comparison, the same journey in a petrol-fuelled Ford Focus would cost £18.

Now, councillors Richard Gale, Trish Robertson and Angela Maclean have called on the council to reverse that decision.

Their motion to the council meeting scheduled for this Thursday says the price hike “has resulted in an outcry by EV users across the Highlands.”

The councillors say the decision is “disappointing” given the council’s drive to net zero.

The motion says the price increase “serves as a significant disincentive to promote the use and indeed the purchase of electric vehicles in favour of fossil fuel powered vehicles, going against the ethos of promoting the use of green transport and the green agenda.”

However, members of the economy and infrastructure committee – which made the decision – were told the network desperately needed the extra income. Without the price increase, it would run at a loss and ultimately decline.

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