Fife Council will step up work to develop a “mixed economy” electric vehicle charging network.

Estimates suggest up to 100,000 people in the Kingdom will be driving plug-in and go cars by the time the ban on petrol and diesel motors comes into force in 2030.

And while investment in public EV charging infrastructure needs to accelerate, Fife Council share Transport Scotland’s view that it is “unsustainable” for the public sector to meet this challenge on its own.

Transport spokesman Councillor Altany Craik described work to date as a “starter for 10” and added: "Given that 30 per cent of Fifers don’t have access to a car, I think there’s a long way to go.

“It is a very movable feast and we’re going to have to work with local partners on this but the council has a very important role to play.”

The council will come up with an EV strategy later this year and equitable access will be at the heart of it.

They'll aim to build on their own infrastructure but partnering up with the private sector wherever possible will be crucial to the future expansion of charging facilities across Fife.

The existing ‘eFife’ public charging network – which provides 115 plug-in points across 37 locations – was planned with charging points spaced approximately 10 miles apart for top-up charging, with the presumption being the predominant charging location would be at the owner’s home. 

A tariff system for powering up at council-owned car parks was introduced in 2020, but that will need to be revised as electricity costs continue to spiral. 

There are also more than 60 charging points at 39 locations that are operated by private providers, all costing various amounts, and that number will also need to increase to meet demand.

At the economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation sub committee, councillors were told housing services are ‘future proofing’ new developments by installing ducting in car parking areas to allow for EV charging facilities.

Work is also ongoing with private developers and other registered social landlords to improve provision where possible. 

That pleased Cllr Jane Ann Liston who said: “That’s exactly the sort of thinking that’s needed in this council.”

Questions remain, however, with Cllr Mino Manekshaw pointing out the prohibitive costs of EVs and infrastructure for both residents and commercial enterprises.

Cllr Ian Cameron also queried if the council was “backing the wrong horse” given that hydrogen technology was growing in popularity and did not require the same sort of infrastructure that EVs do.

“There’s so many fragmented things here that need pulled together and we need to have a bigger understanding of what the impact of this is going to be,” he said.

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment, said: “I think it is a work in progress and it’s going to be a challenge because with a lack of information more widely, folk are going to come to us for solutions.

“We don’t have all the answers at this particular time.” 

Further guidance is expected from the Scottish Government later this year and its new public electric vehicle charging funding programme will provide up to £60 million to local authorities from 2022 to 2026, 

Half of that cash will come from Holyrood with the remaining £30m anticipated to be invested from the private sector. 

This funding programme will replace the current grant funding given to councils for hosting and maintaining charging infrastructure.