A LOCAL authority serving one of England’s most rural areas is set to use £233,000 of its reserves to create its first electric vehicle charging network as part of a drive to become a net zero carbon district.

A Richmondshire District Council meeting is set to hear a proposal to install 18 electric vehicle charging points at its car parks in Nuns Close, Richmond; Hawes; Leyburn; Muker; Hildyard Row, Catterick Garrison and Langthwaite.

An officers’ report to the authority’s corporate board states the proposal for charging points capable of achieving full charges in less than two hours links with its priority to make its operations zero carbon by 2030 and encourage initiatives that help Richmondshire become a net zero carbon district.

The proposals follow the government stating all drivers of electric vehicles should be able to access public charging infrastructure that is affordable, efficient and reliable.

In 2018, there were 12,000 electric registered in the Yorkshire and Humber region, representing six per cent of the national total and current projections are that the number of electric vehicles will double annually in the medium term.

The officers’ report states: “With a fast developing market it is inevitable that a review will need to be undertaken within five years which may call for the renewal or upgrading of our charging infrastructure.”

The type of charging points to be installed are likely to be between 10kwh and 50kwh, as 150kwh “ultra rapid” charges are not suitable for older electric vehicles with different recharging capacities.

The report states charging bays would have a maximum stay per user of two hours to ensure the maximum number of drivers can use the facilities.

However, officers said they recognise “that this may cause a degree of inconvenience whereby a user connects their electric vehicle to a charging point and then needs to return within a specified time and move to an alternative standard car parking space”.

Councillor Philip Wicks, the council’s operational services spokesman, said the scheme was a key part of the authority’s climate change agenda, and was aimed at visitors to the area as well as the many residents were unable to park outside their homes.

He said the proposed scheme was about learning practical and strategic lessons to develop a more extensive network in the coming years.

Cllr Wicks said: “It is very much as starting point. The technology is changing all the time, so this is like dipping a foot in the water. It is still a substantial investment. It is absolutely a green measure and not about income generation at all. Any charges are there to cover the cost of the electricity and maintenance of the charging units.”

Cllr Wicks said to ensure as many vehicles as possible could use the points the authority was considering how it could charge anyone who overstayed the proposed two hour limit.