'Massive expansion' of car charging points needed to reduce emissions

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said there are just 1,856 public charging points available in Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrats call for more car charging points in Scotland to reduce emissions iStock
Emissions: Calls for investment in car charging points in Scotland.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for a “massive expansion” of electric car charging points in a bid to reduce emissions in Scotland. 

The party’s net zero spokesperson Sanne Dijkstra-Downie has called for “ambition and drive” to tackle the issue as Scots are urged to move away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles. 

There are just under 40,000 ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) licensed for road use in Scotland, but there are just 1856 public charging points, equating to one for every 20.8 vehicles. 

In comparison, Department of Transport figures show that in January of this year, there were more than three million cars on the road in Scotland.

The Lib Dems said if every vehicle in Scotland were a ULEV, more than 16,000 new charging points would be needed. 

The party added that data provided by SPICe revealed that on November 2, 97 charge points were recorded as fully offline or faulty, with the network recording an average of 30 faults per day. 

Dijkstra-Downie said: “It’s not that people don’t want to choose environmentally friendlier methods of transport, it’s that at the moment they are worried that there are not enough chargers to allow them to drive a fully electric car. 

“Many people do not have access to a driveway to install a private charger, and trailing cables across pavements causes danger to pedestrians.  

“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. 

“If people from the central belt are hesitant to drive an electric car for fear of not having anywhere to charge it, that fear is even more pronounced in rural and remote communities where the distances involved are so much greater.  

“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.” 

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “High quality charging infrastructure is key to building confidence and helping people to make the switch to electric vehicles. That’s why we’ve invested over £50m in our ChargePlace Scotland network which now has over 2200 charger points meaning that, by population, Scotland has the UK’s second-highest number of electric vehicle public charge points (London has most) and the most rapid charge points.

“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 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 £60m 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.

“Our funding has also delivered over 17,000 domestic charge points and a further 1500 across businesses. All of these offer different charging opportunities to support more electric vehicles in Scotland.

“Further to the launch of the draft vision, the Scottish Government is supporting six pathfinder projects to explore how the public and private sector could work together to enable the expansion of the public charging network at the scale and pace that is required.”