Enright And Brown Call For More EV Charging Points

Councillors Enright and Brown say the number of Electric Vehicle charging points in Newry Mourne and Down has fallen

Councillors Enright and Brown say the number of Electric Vehicle charging points in Newry Mourne and Down has fallen

Downpatrick Councillor Cadogan Enright has disclosed stark figures for the level of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points in Newry Mourne and Down District Council with only 7 working chargers spread over 180 car-parks.

This figure has preceded the monthly meeting upcoming debate on the lack of provision for Electric Charging points across the district being brought forward by Councillor Cadogan Enright (Independent) and Alliance Party Councillor Patrick Brown.

Councillor Enright said: “According to official figures, our Council has 13 chargers in its 180 car parks, of which 6 are not working. From enquiries and FoI requests I have discovered that we have about 7,321 public designated parking points in our Council ignoring all private provisions.

“These are spread across about 180 car parks almost all of which are managed by Council. I get really annoyed when I see other elected officials in the media locally ‘welcoming’ progress on EV chargers when I know they are talking though their hats.  

Councillors Cadogan Enright and Councillor Patrick Brown at the EV charging station in the Council commuter car-park at Saul Link in Downpatrick.  

“For instance, in the Downpatrick Electoral Area there used to be 5 charging points, there is only one now off Saul Way. There were 2 near Rathkeltair, one of which has gone and I am trying to get the second repaired. Strangford’s chargers have not worked for months.

“None of the other coastal villages have one despite being tourism magnets,“ said Councillor Enright.

“This is discriminating against 50% of the population who live in apartments, terraces or whose front gardens cannot be used to charge their own cars. To their credit, some employers like the South Eastern HSC Trust, LIDL or SERC have installed chargers for their staff and Council has yet to do so.

“We also have a problem with Council failing to mark charging point bays as EV-parking only. So EV owners will often find them blocked by commuter cars. The charging points in Saul Link are is only marked for one car being an EV, so the second slot is almost always parked on. This is the typical situation right across the district.”

“Council’s rate of provision is less than one tenth of one percent. Sales of EV’s locally seem to be running at an increasing rate at about 7%. This means that lack of public charging provision makes ordinary people without parking in their front gardens (a majority) excluded from owning an EV in our area. This can only get worse. In view of our dependency on tourism, not making EV points available means that people travelling from other parts of Ireland will not want to come here,” added Councillor Cadogan Enright.

Councillor Patrick Brown said: “The figures disclosed by Councillor Enright expose 7 years of wasted time on this issue. The number of chargers in our area has actually fallen during the period since Newry Mourne and Down District Council became responsible for car-parks 7 years ago.

There has been significant funding made available from central government for draw down by councils to cover the 75% of the cost of installation of EV chargers throughout council areas. The Department for Infrastructure have committed to providing the additional 25% required to cover the costs of installing chargers throughout the district. 

“Newry Mourne and Down Council has been too slow in applying for these funds. This could be a massive positive development for the district in terms of economic development, tourism and a real contribution to improving the environment. To date the only council in receive this funding has been Belfast who have been awarded £3.2M.” Said Councillor Brown.

“Newry Mourne and Down District Council took over the public carparks in 2014. By now there should have been chargers in all its 180 car parks in town centres from Killyleagh to Crossmaglen and in all recreational centres, public parks and at their offices and community centres .” Said Alliance Councillor Brown.

“It would be the minimum anyone would expect to see Council installing at least one charger in every car-park in the short term. Bigger car-parks should have multiple chargers. This could be achieved at zero cost to the council. Long-term, Council can develop a new stream of income here, provide a service to people who cannot have a charger at the front of their house and I believe the DfI are even supporting councils to progress this area of development.”

Councillor Brown said; “This sounds like a win-win opportunity for our council. Promote tourism, encourage economic development, positive impact on environment and opportunity for positive media coverage. Councillor Enright and I will be pushing for real action on this issue in the short-term.”