Nottingham City Council, together with Nottinghamshire County Council and Derby City Council, secured £6.1 million funding earlier this year from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles after achieving the status.
This will be used to develop a vehicle charging network, introducing rapid charging hubs and supporting businesses to invest in EVs – something the authority is already doing.
“We need to be leading by example,” says Rasita Chudasama, Go Ultra Low programme manager at Nottingham City Council, which has 11 EVs – Nissan eNV200 vans and Nissan Leafs – with more on order.
“If we want to open doors to businesses and individuals to make the shift to electric vehicles we need to practice what we preach.
“We have got charge points at work places where those vehicles might be based and have also put together a training programme for our pool car users so they can understand how to use those vehicles, where to charge them and who to speak to if there are any issues.”
Chudasama says the council has employed not-for-profit, low carbon consultancy Cenex to carry out a fleet review into the potential use of EVs. The findings are due to be released this month (October).
“This will help us understand what the financial case is and what the opportunities are,” she adds.
“We can distribute this to other local authorities to help make the case for EVs and develop an understanding of what the benefits might be from financial and environmental aspects.
“While a local authority may be looking at air quality, businesses might be looking at their profit margin, so we need to get to the root of how they can justify EVs to their accountants, what information they need and how they can overcome any problems.”
Funding the council has received will support initiatives to:
* Develop an electric vehicle network to support charging for commuters and visitors at park and ride sites and other key destinations.
* Introduce rapid charging hubs for cars, taxis and vans within the Nottingham and Derby urban areas.
* Support business to invest in ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) through grants and take a leading role in supporting the public sector to convert its fleet to ULEVs.
* Support alternative fuel technologies research and trials and create opportunities for training and education.
The funding will also be used to convert one of Nottingham’s busiest routes into an Eco Expressway, giving priority to buses, bikes and electric vehicles.
Work on the six-mile route began at the beginning of this month and is due to be completed by March next year.
Other cities at the forefront of the scheme
Nottingham was one of four cities named as a Go Ultra Low City earlier this year, each winning funding to encourage the uptake of EVs.
The other winners were London, Milton Keynes and Bristol.
Under the scheme:
- London was awarded £13 million to create ‘neighbourhoods of the future’, prioritising EVs in several boroughs across the capital. Proposals included more than a dozen streets in Hackney going electric, with charging infrastructure such as car-charging street lighting. Harrow will develop a low emission zone, offering parking and traffic priority to owners of plug-in vehicles.
- Milton Keynes will receive £9m to open an electric vehicle experience centre to provide consumer advice and short-term vehicle loans. EV owners will also be able to park for free in the city’s 15,000 car parking spaces, while bus lanes will be co-branded as ‘low emission lanes’, meaning plug-in vehicles can enjoy the same priority at traffic lights as local buses.
- Bristol will get £7m to offer free residential parking for ULEVs, more than 80 rapid and fast chargers across the city, and a scheme encouraging people to lease a plug-in car for up to four weeks to give them experience of using an EV.