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Opposition councillors fail in bid to stop price hike for Highland electric vehicle chargers

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Highland Council will press ahead with plans to increase the price of electric vehicle (EV) chargers by 130%.

This follows a failed attempt by the Liberal Democrat opposition to stop the price hike.

Councillor Richard Gale led a motion to today’s Highland Council following “outcry” from Highland electric vehicle drivers.

Mr Gale, along with former climate change chairwoman Trish Robertson and councillor Angela Maclean, called on the Highland Council to make a U-turn.

They said the price hike “serves as a significant disincentive to promote the use and indeed the purchase of electric vehicles in favour of fossil fuel powered vehicles”.

Instead, they called on Highland Council to agree a more modest 10% price rise.

Their motion was up for debate today.

130% price increase

However, convener Bill Lobban said the motion was not competent because it sought to reverse a decision made by the economy committee only one month ago. That’s not allowed under Highland Council standing orders.

To get around this setback, Mr Gale asked councillors to suspend standing orders, and press ahead with his motion. Mr Gale lost that vote, so the electric vehicle tariff changes will go ahead.

The new tariff will see Highland Council fast chargers cost 70p per kilowatt hour – up from 30p – and slow chargers will go up to 35p.

Highland Council’s headquarters are in Inverness. Image: Jason Hedges / DC Thomson.

Members of the economy and infrastructure committee voted in February to apply the EV tariff rise. It followed a detailed report from council bosses, which set out that the council could not maintain the network at current prices.

The Highland EV charging network was previously maintained by Transport Scotland, but that subsidy is coming to an end. As such, Highland Council said it needed to charge more to pay for repair and maintenance. Without this, some chargers would fall into disrepair.

It’s a tough balancing act, but one that didn’t make it to the debating chamber today.

However, discussing council performance earlier in the meeting, new chief executive Kate Lackie underlined the need for a price increase. Ms Lackie said that private sector providers are currently priced out of the market by the cheap council chargers.

Increasing prices, she said, would allow commercial operators to come in and boost the EV charging network across Highland.

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[Opposition councillors fail in bid to stop price hike for Highland electric vehicle chargers]

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