TWO new electric vehicle rapid filling stations are planned for motorists in Newcastle and Sunderland.

The city centre stations, which will be designed, built and run by Fastned UK, are both close to major routes and are to help meet charging needs for the growing numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK.

Rapid charging (known as “fast” charging in Europe), allows a typical EV to charge significantly faster than plugging in at home.

There are 130,000 electric vehicles in the UK and ten per cent of those – one-in-ten (13,000) – are in the North East.

The contract award has come through the North East Combined Authority (NECA) – the seven councils which serve County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland – and Newcastle University.

Both the Newcastle and Sunderland sites will allow for up to six vehicles all charging at the same time.

Funding for the £4m project comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) programme and the Department for Transport’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV.)

The Newcastle site at Wellington Street location is part of Newcastle University’s Newcastle Helix site and will help guide a research project on EVs.

In Sunderland, a site has been identified at West Wear Street to the south east of the Wearmouth Bridge and next to the A1018, which is one of Sunderland’s busiest central routes with more than 21,000 vehicles using it every day.

Helen Golightly, NECA’s head of paid service and executive director of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The support NECA and others are receiving from the ERDF and the Government is fundamental to seeing this long-term shift away from petrol and diesel. More plug-in points means more confidence for drivers to adopt cleaner and greener vehicles.”

The North East already has 300 charging points and is home to the Nissan LEAF, the first mass-market, affordable car.

Professor Phil Blythe, Professor of Transport, who is leading the research project at Newcastle University, said: “With the Government currently preparing their ‘Road to Zero’ strategy that will provide the roadmap of how to get to the stated objective that by 2040 all new cars purchased should be ultra-low emissions, this facility is hugely valuable in helping us gauge what infrastructure is required by current users and potential future users of electric vehicles.”

Fastned CEO, Michiel Langezaal said: “We already have 67 stations operational in the Netherlands and are keen to use our experience to help NECA and Newcastle University realise quality fast charging infrastructure for electric vehicles."

Layout plans for the two stations are now being finalised and planning applications will be submitted in due course.