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Massive expansion in car chargers needed in Scotland, say Lib Dems

There are 1,856 public charging points in Scotland, according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats (Owen Humphreys/PA)
There are 1,856 public charging points in Scotland, according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats (Owen Humphreys/PA)

A “massive expansion” in the number of car chargers is needed to help give Scots the confidence to switch to electric vehicles, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Across Scotland there are more than 38,000 ultra-low emission vehicles on the road but only 1,856 public charging points, or one for every 20.8 vehicles, the party said.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said if the more than three million vehicles on the road north of the border are going to be switched to low emission versions, achieving the same ratio would need more than 16,000 new charging points to be built.

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There are 1,856 public charging points in Scotland, according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats (Ian West/PA)

The party also said there were an average of 30 faults every day on the charging network.

Sanne Dijkstra-Downie, the party’s net zero spokesman and an Edinburgh councillor, said: “These figures show that charging stations are few and far between, and when you do find one there’s a good chance it might either be broken down or already occupied.”

She added: “To give people confidence that they will always be able to charge electric cars when they need to, we need a massive expansion of our car-charging network with thousands of additional public charging stations in every urban and rural corner of Scotland.

“That’s the level of ambition and drive that will be necessary for the transition away from fossil fuel-powered cars.”

Ultra-low emission vehicles range from pure electric models to plug-in hybrids.

The UK is bringing in a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030.

In the City of Edinburgh Council area there were 67 public chargers as of September 2021, while in the Glasgow City Council region there were 151.

There were 92 registered in the Dundee City Council area, while Fife Council had 84 within its boundaries, and Angus had 60.

As well as the 1,856 public chargers, there are another 219 charge points owned by private companies, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said. Figures for these are not available on a local authority level.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said only London had more public chargers by population and had put £50 million of taxpayers’ money into the ChargePlace Scotland network, which has more than 2,200 points.

“High quality charging infrastructure is key to building confidence and helping people to make the switch to electric vehicles,” the spokesman said.

“To support our ambition and building upon our investment in the ChargePlace Scotland network, we’ve published a draft vision statement for public electric vehicle charging in Scotland.

“We’re clear on the need for a just transition, where accessibility, availability and reliability is key, and where no-one is left behind from the positive shift to zero emission transport system – including rural communities.

“We have also launched a new £60 million Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund to further grow the public charging network across Scotland through partnership working between Scotland’s local authorities and the private sector.”