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Tuesday 21 July 2015

Council ‘shifts gear’ and goes electric – to boost greener transport and cleaner air in Cheshire East


Cheshire East Council is to trial electric vehicles in a bid to boost greener transport and cleaner air.

Councillor Les Gilbert, the Cabinet member for communities, yesterday (July 20) authorised officers to seek a 75 per cent Government grant to fund replacing its four staff ‘pool’ cars with clean, green, more reliable and cheaper-to-run electric vehicles. And the move will save local Council Taxpayers money too.

A report to Cllr Gilbert revealed hi-tech electric cars will cut vehicle running costs by nearly a third, reduce maintenance bills and also improve uptake by staff because of improved quality and reliability.

The Council will also encourage staff to use the new electric pool cars, which the report says would save the Council about £5,284 per vehicle over five years, compared to replacing them with conventional vehicles – meaning a total saving of more than £21,000 in the period.

Cllr Gilbert said: “This decision is really good news for the environment and puts this Council in the vanguard of encouraging modern, greener transport across the Borough and beyond.

“It is also about putting our local residents first and tackling issues at their root – as electric vehicles produce zero emissions (at the tailpipe) and help improve the air quality of our towns and thus the health of our local communities.

“This project, in conjunction with our recent decision to provide five recharging points across the Borough, further demonstrates that the Council is leading by example, encouraging business travel using zero or ultra-low emission vehicle technology.” 

The Council also recently secured a separate Office for Low Emission Vehicles (Olev) grant to provide electric vehicle recharging points for local road users, as well as the Council’s proposed electric fleet. 

Electric vehicle (EV) technology is relatively new but the number of electric vehicles in the UK has risen in the last two years from 3,500 in 2013 to 15,500 in 2014 – and the expectation is for that figure to keep on growing and growing. 

One of the biggest barriers to people taking up this technology is the lack of a public charging network and the Council receives regular enquiries about EV infrastructure.

The Olev grant has enabled the Council to provide six 50kV rapid charging units – two each in car parks in Congleton (Princess Street), Wilmslow (South Drive) and Nantwich (Love Lane). The units are operated by a third party. 

These units can recharge a vehicle from ‘empty’ up to 80 per cent charge in as little as 20 minutes. The sites have been chosen as they are close to destination points such as supermarkets and coffee shops, where drivers can wait for their vehicle to charge.

There are also five 7kV fast-charging units located at Council offices at Macclesfield Town Hall, Westfield’s in Sandbach, Delamere House in Crewe and the Library Car Park in Crewe (two units). The latter can also be used by members the public.

Based on 8,000 miles a year usage, the running cost (fuel only) of an electric vehicle is 3p a mile compared to 8p a mile for conventional fuel vehicles.

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