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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

MEA Council drops out of electric vehicle FASTER scheme

Electric vehicle charging point

Mid and East Antrim has pulled out of a proposed network of electric vehicle charging points amid concern over “financial loss”.

The borough council has been participating in a FASTER Electric Vehicle programme in association with other local authorities in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and western Scotland to expand a network of fast electric vehicle charging points supported by the EU’s Interreg Programme.

Mid and East Antrim joined the FASTER consortium in July 2021 to allow locations in the borough to be considered for three rapid charge points.

The council has now said it is “unviable” to continue as a partner over concerns that a “portion of electricity costs incurred in providing electricity for charging would result in ongoing financial loss for council.”

A report presented to the borough council’s Environment and Economy Committee said:

“The significant change was the decision to connect charge points into existing council meters rather than having the charge point operator apply for an independent electricity connection. This made it unviable for the council to continue as a partner.”

The report stated: “The recovery of any electricity costs would only be assured through a significant administrative process, including site visits for meter reading and carrying out recharging calculations.”

There were also concerns over the cost of replacement equipment and potential for increase in carbon footprint.

During an update on the borough’s EV charging network, councillors were also told negotiations are taking place with ESB, an energy generation and supply company, to secure a proposed rapid charging hub in Mid and East Antrim for electric vehicles.

The report indicated the company is to replace four of the 22kW charge points in the borough and upgrade two to 100kW.

In addition, the borough council is a member of the Northern Ireland EV Consortium which has secured funding from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles through the On Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS) to install 120 charge points across 10 council areas, including 14 in Mid and East Antrim.

The report noted: “Some EV projects, despite being funded, may not provide a value for money proposition or best value to residents.

“An independent public/private partnership model to deliver public charging infrastructure across the borough has been explored and is now the preferred model.”


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