Zero Spent by DfI on EV Infrastructure

After our meeting with Cathal Boylan MLA, he posed several questions on our behalf around EVs in NI. We’ve been eagerly awaiting the answer to this one:

AQW 13792/17-22 – To ask the Minister for Infrastructure to detail the amount her Department has spent on electric vehicle infrastructure in the past twelve months.

Cathal Boylan, MLA

The reply has now been posted online and is pasted below in its entirety. But [spoiler alert] it seems to confirm our worst fears, as it does not detail A SINGLE PENNY spent by DfI on EV infrastructure here in the last 12 months!

Whilst our public charging network crumbles and drivers here are actively returning to diesel and petrol, DfI cannot provide evidence of any of their budget going towards electric vehicle infrastructure here in the last year.

£Zero

In the same period, tens of millions have been spent on the important work around public transport and active travel (£66 million alone for the zero and low emission buses). Meanwhile the private EV motorist in NI has been left out in the cold.

DfI are neglecting critical infrastructure at a time when they are supposed to be facilitating the transition to sustainable transport – both public and private.

We will be writing to the DfI minister to raise our strong objection to the on-going inaction around public EV charging here. Please join in.

DfI Minister’s Answer in Full

Electric vehicle charge point infrastructure is operated on a commercial basis and funding opportunities for the installation of charge point infrastructure in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are provided by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV). This includes a £400 million infrastructure investment fund to support private sector investment in charging infrastructure by providing greater access to finance on a commercial basis.

The British Government has just announced that grant funding for the On-street Residential Charge Point Scheme (ORCS) will continue for 2021/22 and £20 million will be available for local authorities to provide charge points for residents without off-street parking. I would, therefore, encourage local councils, where possible, to access this funding for the installation of charge points on residential streets. My officials have also been engaging with OZEV and with the Energy Saving Trust (EST), who administer the scheme, in particular, with reference to councils in Northern Ireland. The EST has since held a workshop with councils in Northern Ireland about the scheme. My officials will continue to make themselves available to local councils to provide assistance, advice and guidance in respect of electric vehicle (EV) related matters.

My Department has also recently been engaging with ESB on its plans to replace approx. 70 charge points i.e. 35 charge posts to upgrade and improve the reliability of the existing public network. These charge points were installed some time ago and are experiencing faults on a regular basis, many of which are no longer supported by the original manufacturer. ESB can be contacted at ecars@esb.ie or enquiries can be sent directly to ESB, Two Gateway, East Wall Road, Dublin 3, D03 A995.

In addition, I am also making changes to the planning system, through permitted development rights, to make it easier to expand the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. This will allow expansion work to proceed without the need to apply for planning permission helping to make e-charging more accessible across the North. Where possible, the Department takes every step possible to assist ESB with issues which affect the network.

I have also been able to support the EU INTERREG VA Funded FASTER electric vehicle network project. The project will complement and enhance the existing EV charging infrastructure, which was co-financed by the EU through TEN-T funding. The project is to install a total of 73 EV Rapid charging points across the island of Ireland and the West of Scotland by 31 March 2023.

Nichola Mallon, Minister Department for Infrastructure
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