Hundreds of electric vehicle chargers could be installed across North Somerset over the next seven years as the number of electric vehicles is predicted to increase by 1,500%.

North Somerset Council is planning to bid for government funding for the infrastructure to ensure that charging is accessible across all parts of the district, including in more rural places.

Hannah Young, executive member for transport on the council, told North Somerset Council’s executive meeting on Wednesday, 21st June: “The challenges that we face in North Somerset are that if we leave electric vehicle charging infrastructure to the private sector, then we know that we won’t get full coverage across our communities and some people may be disadvantaged by that.”

Last year, there were 2,291 electric vehicles in North Somerset but the council is forecasting that there could be more than 37,500 by 2030.

The council expects that 1,619 fast chargers and 370 rapid chargers will be needed to cater for this number of electric vehicles, but that the private sector cannot be counted on to deliver all of these, particularly in rural areas.

Ms Young said: “We forecast that the public sector will need to play a role in developing 613 fast and 30 rapid chargers by 2030. That’s a huge task so just as well we are starting now.”

The council is planning to fund the £1.16m project from grant funding from the government’s Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund, and agreed their “Electric Vehicle Strategy” at the meeting in order to meet the requirements to bid for it.

Ms Young said: “43% of carbon emissions in north somerset come from transport. If we are going to have any potential to get to net zero by 2030, which is the council’s ambition and plan, then we need to look at all sorts of way in which to decarbonise.

“Obviously there’s a lot of work on active travel, on cycling and walking, and on public transport by way of buses, but electric vehicles absolutely have an important role to play in transport decarbonisation.”

But councillor Mike Solomon, himself an electric vehicle owner, warned that public charging stations are “not necessarily the direction to go in,” adding that batteries that last for longer and charge in ten minutes were being developed which could mean more people would charge at home by 2030.

Councillor Steve Bridger added that it was important chargers should not limit pedestrians’ access on pavements.

LDRS, John Wimperis