Yesterday we held our Zoom meeting with the Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon.
It was especially timely as news broke earlier in the day that the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme will invest approximately €6.4m/£5.8m in a new electric vehicle charging project called ‘FASTER’. The money will be used for 73 new rapid chargers shared between Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.
It will carry out the design, installation and operation of 73 rapid charging points at easily accessible areas of defined need, across all three regions. It is anticipated that the provision of these new charging points will encourage more citizens to opt for a ‘greener’, more sustainable form of travel.
Welcoming the project Minister Mallon said…
Since taking up my role as Infrastructure Minister I have been clear that addressing the climate emergency is one of my key priorities. I am committed to delivering cleaner, greener, sustainable and inclusive infrastructure that will improve connectivity, grow our all island economy and transform our communities today and for the generations behind us. I am pleased that my Department has helped to deliver in partnership this EU Funded project to install EV Rapid Chargers as it will complement and enhance the existing EV charging infrastructure which was also co-financed by the EU through TEN-T funding.
It’s early days for this project and we look forward to finding out the charger locations, the information on who will operate them (it will go out to tender) and when they will be in place.
[UPDATE 26/01/21 – according to this Assembly Question these chargers will be installed “by 31 March 2023”]
Whilst there’s no confirmation of numbers, there are hopes this could mean over 20 new Rapid Chargers heading to NI. This is most welcome news that would see NI ending up with more than double its current number of DC chargers.
During our conversation with the Minister many other issues were covered, such as AC Public chargers having both spaces designated for charging (marked green), the introduction of payment for charging, options for EV drivers without off-street parking, the unreliability of the existing charger network and ideas around Green Number Plates. Although the Minister could not give definitive details on each, it is clear she understands the issues at hand (especially as an EV driver herself).
We will continue our dialogue with Minister Mallon and her department as we lobby for EV drivers across Northern Ireland. We thank the Minister for the very constructive discussion and for her commitment to bring about meaningful changes for EV drivers, particularly across our public charging network.