We are a naturally green county. That’s not just our verdant rolling hills. We have a huge green thinking community in Shropshire. That’s why it is frustrating that Shropshire Council is always in the slow lane when it comes to green technology.
I have already written about the council’s lack of interest in green verges. In an answer to another question on charging points for electric vehicles, the council says it is planning to install some. How many? Two. Roll out of extra charging points will depend on “evaluation”, “solving issues”, “clarity at a national level.” I don’t understand why roll out of EV is happening almost everywhere else but Shropshire.
Shropshire Council was one of the last councils to recognise that it could save money and help the environment by installing solar panels on its buildings. Time and time again, it has shown that it is a fossil fuelled council and even when introduces green measures, it lags other councils. Our petrol head council is only concerned about money, not protecting our fragile environment. It turned down our bid to have streetlights upgraded to LED, saving money and saving energy. The council leaders were worried about the capital expenditure. (Don’t tell anyone the council recently spent £55 million on shopping centres.)
We need an environmentally driven council. But Shropshire Council has always been in the slow lane on green matters.
My latest frustration is stoked by an answer to a question I have asked for Thursday’s full council meeting. I asked what plans the council has for introducing EV charging points on car parks and streets.
The answer is frankly disappointing. It whinges that there are problems, uncertainty and difficulties. The response shows the very opposite of leadership. Greening the council’s policies will have to wait until we can follow others. After all, we are a county of sheep.
That’s not good enough.
There are signs of some progress. I sent in my question on 10 July. On 16 July, an article appeared in the Shropshire Star boasting of “ambitious plans to bring electric vehicle charging points to Shropshire Council car park sites”. Except they are not yet plans. They are a rushed statement that give little detail, no costs to consumers and no indications of the council budget required.
According to the Star, Councillor Steve Davenport, portfolio holder for highways and transport, commented: “This is a big piece of work but we want to bring a green commitment to Shropshire and reduce commissions as well.” [sic]
While I am sure he means emissions, the whole approach to EV charging in Shropshire is rather scrappy. The formal reply to my question in council shows that we are to get new charging points at the Ludlow Food Centre and in Church Stretton. That’s two. The hundreds we need will have to wait until Shropshire Council catches up with the modernising world outside our historic county.
We are a green county. We should also have a green council governing it.
The question and answer
Councillor Andy Boddington will ask the following question to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Highways:
The government is currently consulting on its Road to Zero Strategy. What are the council’s current policies and plans for:
1) Ensuring replacement streetlighting columns incorporate EV charging points?
2) Installing EV charging points in council owned car parks?
3) Requiring EV charging points in new developments, including housing, employment and retail sites?
Councillor Steve Davenport will reply:
Shropshire Council is currently in the process of developing an Electric Vehicle (EV) Recharging Policy which will give direction with the aim to achieve the governments new objectives covered by the document you mentioned ‘Road to Zero’.
This work will be further embedded into the development of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) 4, which is being launched in the autumn.
The initiatives contained within in the Government’s Strategy include considerations to fund charging infrastructure and the need to assess whether new homes and offices should be required to install charge points as standard. The driving force will need to come from policy to promote charging points with the minimum of providing the infrastructure for future consideration. This policy will “cut across” a number of areas such as highways, planning policy and development etc.
Street lights appear the obvious solution to provide a strategic network of EV charging points on the public highway, and where columns are being replaced with new, the need for an EV charging points will need to be evaluated and will be location specific, which further support the need for a clear policy and the operational issues identified, understood etc.
However, we are aware that trials of existing lamp-post outlets have manifested numerous technical and practical issues. The first being how the street lighting cabling is going to carry 5 times the existing load to charge a vehicle, another being to prevent the charging cable from being a trip hazard. We will look to find a solution to overcome this issue to make it viable, which arguably is a national and industry issues as well as a local Shropshire issue to resolve.
Referring to Council owned car parks, a trial at Frankwell is currently being looked at where 10 No. 7Kw charging units are being considered. In addition, we have received grant funding for two rapid charging units to be installed just off the A49 at the Ludlow food Centre and the other at Easthope Car Park in Church Stretton. As yet there is no Countywide scheme, however, charging points at suitable locations has been recognised as the way forward and momentum will build up taking this into account.
I am sure you will appreciate this is at a very early stage and we will be taking on board the mentioned government objectives, current guidelines, local views from Parish and Town Councils while reviewing what grants are available to accelerate this project through a well-researched strategy and policy development whist the national debate continues and clarity is provided at a national level.