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Transport / Introducing fees for electric vehicle charging would ‘send out wrong message’

A vehicle charging point at the Fort Road car park. Photo: Shetland News

THERE are no immediate plans to make people pay to use public electric vehicle charging points in Shetland, with worries it would “send out the wrong message”.

Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) environment and estate manager Carl Symons said this was because the rollout of electric vehicles locally is “so low” and people need to be encouraged to make the leap.

He also told a meeting of the SIC’s environment and transport committee on Tuesday that the council’s fleet of electric vehicles is set to double in number later this year.

At the moment the council has nine electric vehicles, but a further 11 are set to be delivered la

One of Shetland’s newest charging points outside the Albert Building in Lerwick. Photo: Shetland News

ter this year.

Following a question from Lerwick South councillor Peter Campbell, Symons said there are “no immediate plans to roll out charging”.

“At this point in time, because the rollout of electric cars is so low in Shetland we felt that introducing charging wasn’t prudent and didn’t send out the right message,” he said.

“Administratively it probably would cost a significant sum of money to recover not very much, and again you’ve got the issue that we’re trying to get people to think about buying electric cars.”

Infrastructure director John Smith explained that some local authorities charge, and some do not.

Last year the UK Government announced the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030, with electric vehicles seen as the solution to reduce emissions.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart recently called on the Scottish Government to help “kickstart an electric car revolution” after figures showed just 54 electric cars are registered in the islands.

There are a number of free to use electric vehicle charging points dotted across Shetland, from Unst to Dunrossness.

The popularity of points, however, varies drastically depending on their location, with chargers in Lerwick the most used.

A report to the environment and transport committee said that charging points at Cullivoe Pier, Lerwick town centre and Sumburgh Airport are nearing completion, as is an upgrade of the Bixter point.

Planning permission has been received for points at Voe and the Walls health centre, while further funding has been secured for more charging points, with six sites set to be targeted in 2021/22.

Councillors were also told that funding has been received for a further charge point at Church Road in Lerwick, subject to planning approval.

A draft report on the potential to use hydrogen fuel alternatives in the council’s vehicle fleet has also been produced.