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Powering up the borough's drive for greener travel

Powering up the borough's drive for greener travel

21 September 2022
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close up of a hand connecting a charger to an electric vehicle

Dozens of electric vehicle charging points are a step closer to being installed across Wokingham borough now that funding is available. Wokingham Borough Council is about to receive a Government grant towards 38 chargers in 19 locations, which will cover 60 per cent of the cost.


This comes from the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, run by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) with support from the Energy Saving Trust. The remaining money will follow from the supplier once a contract is agreed, with no net cost to taxpayers.


Twelve sites are residential streets in Wokingham town, Twyford, Winnersh, Earley, Woodley, Arborfield, Finchampstead and Wargrave, which were chosen following consultation with residents. Exact locations will be confirmed once the council has drawn up traffic orders for the work.


The others will go in the council's car parks at Denmark Street, Rose Street and Cockpit Path, all in Wokingham town, Polehampton Close (West) in Twyford, Station Road in Earley and Crockhamwell Road and Headley Road in Woodley.


Providing EV access for everyone


The OZEV grant mostly funds chargepoints in streets that don't have off-street parking, ensuring this isn't a barrier to the benefits of owning an electric vehicle. It also supports them in car parks where this is needed to keep on-street parking elsewhere.


The council was keen to pursue this as part of its strategy to tackle climate change and improve air quality by reducing emissions, which also includes promoting public transport and increasing opportunities for walking and cycling.


Sites were identified by analysing areas with potential demand for electric vehicles plus a high number of flats or terraced homes, as well as a survey in early 2021 and individual requests from the public.


The chargepoints will all be usable on a “pay as you go” basis and will be owned by the council but maintained by the supplier, who would cover any costs to ensure no net expense to the taxpayer.


After an initial period, their effectiveness will be reviewed, and the findings will inform the council's electric vehicle strategy for years to come. This will help the authority meet its pledge to do as much as it can to bring the borough's carbon emissions down to net zero by 2030, as road travel is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and harmful nitrogen dioxide.


Keeping in step with the world


This news, which comes shortly after World EV Day, will see a further increase in chargepoints across the borough from just 30 in 2019 and from about 175 now. The council welcomes this global celebration of electric vehicle technologies, which it is doing all it can to support, and aims to continue expanding provision over the years to come.


Under a recent pilot project with Flowbird Smart City UK, drivers using the new chargers at the council’s Shute End offices and Carnival Hub, both in Wokingham town, and Dinton Pastures Country Park, near Hurst, which are integrated with the parking ticket machines. Visitors can now pay for their parking and power consumed at the same time with the Flowbird “Park and Charge” app.


This cutting-edge scheme, which uses 7kW dual socket “fast” chargers, allows the council to offer separate or combined parking and charging rates to be paid either through an app or at ticket machines using coins or cards. Further electric vehicle initiatives are also being developed, with more announcements expected in the coming months.


Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “We want as many journeys as possible to be made by walking, cycling or taking public transport but we know this won't always happen, particularly for longer trips.

“Encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles is, therefore, another important part of our approach. We aren't going to stop every private vehicle journey from being made, but we can do as much as possible to reduce their impact on the planet.


“We're very thankful for this grant, which will help us to take further steps towards increasing electric vehicle ownership. People shouldn't feel unable to make the switch simply because they don't have a driveway.


“We’re also delighted to announce this news in the same month as World EV Day, as it shows that we are committed to embracing these new technologies and enabling our residents to do the same, just as other communities all around the world are doing.”


Supporting sustainable transport


Meanwhile, the council is working to keep bus services running as they recover from the impact of covid – and continues to urge people to use them now so that we have a good network in future, as they are safe, convenient and far more beneficial to the environment than driving.


The council also plans to enhance the borough's active travel links through its emerging Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. This is still at a very early stage, with no funding allocated for specific improvements, and there would be further consultation before any ideas could go ahead.


Residents should respond by 2 October. For help completing it and alternative formats like paper or PDF, please call (0118) 974 6000 or visit one of the borough’s libraries.


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