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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Electric vehicle charging points set for possible upgrade across Mid and East Antrim

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been asked by the Department for Infrastructure to submit 15 carpark locations as part of a funding bid for provision of new electric vehicle charging points.

Infrastructure MInister Nichola Mallon has urged councils to progress an application for on-street charge points saying she will allocate £350,000 match-funding to them to grow the e-charging network to support the decarbonisation of transport and help mitigate climate change.

Councils have the opportunity to include car parking spaces that offer 24-hour access to the public instead.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s Direct Services Committee on Tuesday evening, Braid Alderman Beth Adger MBE asked for the existing chargers to be repaired.

She reported that a number are damaged and out of order. She also told members that the nearest fast charger to Ballymena is in Londonderry.

“It is a bit far to go to get your car charged up again,” she remarked.

She was told that the proposed new chargers would not be fast.

Ald Adger commented: “I am very disappointed. If someone has to charge their car overnight, what happens if half a dozen people need them? It defeats the purpose putting in ones that do not do fast charge.”

Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke commented: “There is probably no incentive. That may have to change. It is good to see existing charging points being upgraded.”

Coast Road Ulster Unionist Cllr Maureen Morrow asked if there was an app to inform electric car owners where charging points are located.

“My concern about putting them in car parks in some areas is the security aspect. Leaving your car sitting in a car park a ten minute walk away from where you live, it is quite vulnerable. I would have concerns about that.

“There are two electric cars in Glenarm. Most nights those two charging points are being used. What do you do if you have a third person?”

Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Danny Donnelly pointed out that most people who have an electric car have a charger at home and there is an app for charger locations.

He went on to say that motorists sometimes park in bays where chargers are located but are not using them.

“I look forward to seeing chargers in large areas where people park on-street.”

He asked if funds would be available to upgrade to fast chargers.

Bannside DUP Ald Tommy Nicholl MBE, who owns an electric car, said: “The government is not ready to promote electric cars. The infrastructure is not fully what it should be. It is certainly not in Mid and East Antrim. If you do not have the infrastructure, there is no point having an electric car.

“I suggest we send a letter to the Department for Infrastructure to ask that fast chargers are placed at strategic points throughout this province.”

The e-car public charge point network is owned, operated and maintained by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).

ESB ecars took over the operation and maintenance of electric car infrastructure in Northern Ireland in 2015. There are 300 charge points and 17 rapid charge points.

A report to councillors has indicated that ESB ecars has commenced replacement of fast chargers, with one at Riverdale in Larne and will continue at Agnew Street Car Park in Larne, the car park at Harbour Road, Carnlough and a rapid charger at Maxol Centra, Antrim Road Filling Station, in Ballymena.

The Infrastructure Minister has said:

“Funding is available from the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles for local councils to provide charge points for residents without off-street parking through the On-street Residential Charge Point Scheme (ORCS).

“I have set aside an allocation of £350,000 of match-funding within my department’s Blue Green Infrastructure Fund for councils that submit a successful application to the ORCS.

“This ORCS funding cannot be accessed by my Department, it is available to local councils and it is for them to apply individually or collectively.

“I would encourage local councils, where possible, to access this ORCS funding for the installation of charge points on residential streets. My Department has been working closely with councils to encourage them to take up that funding and that work is ongoing.”


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