Council to spend £2.6m on preparing for electric vehicles

An electric car in charging on the street Picture: OMADA

Suffolk County Council is preparing to go all-electric with its vehicle fleet - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Community leaders have agreed to spend £2.6million of taxpayers' money on electric vehicle charging points ready for a switch to an electric vehicle fleet next year.

Suffolk County Council, which has trialled nine electric vehicles this year, will change its lease on diesel cars and vans to an all-electric fleet of dozens of vehicles when the current contract ends in mid-2023.

Ahead of the change, the authority needs to create a host of EV charging points across its estate.

The finance agreed by the cabinet on Tuesday, May 24, includes £2.1m for Suffolk Highways bases in Rougham, Halesworth and Phoenix House in Ipswich; £165,000 for fast chargers across the pool fleet of cars; and £285,000 for Concertus’ fees to procure and supervise the work.

Suffolk County Council's Conservative cabinet member for Ipswich and operational highways, Paul West. 

Paul West, Conservative cabinet member for operational highways - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Paul West, Conservative cabinet member for operational highways, said the work would help the council achieve its net-zero carbon emissions policy by 2030.

He said: “Work is required to install the charging infrastructure in this financial year so it’s operational for delivery of the new fleet of lease vehicles in around 18 months’ time.

“The current leased diesel fleet of 50 highways vehicles and 43 pool vehicles expires in mid-2023, and a new contract will have around 12-18 months lead-in.

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“The highways service has already been trialling nine electric vehicles to identify the constraints and the working practices just to get a feel of how those vehicles work.”

Mr West said £400,000 had already been earmarked for Ipswich East, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds fire stations, and a plan is in place to replace 14 officer response cars and six non-operational service vehicles in the fire service with electric vehicles in 2022/23 as part of the rolling fleet replacement programme.

Around 200 tonnes of CO2 will be saved per year as a result of the change, the authority said.

Andrew Stringer, leader of the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group.

Andrew Stringer, leader of the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group - Credit: Jason Noble LDRS

Andrew Stringer, leader of the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, said: “It’s vital we get this infrastructure in place, not only to save ourselves quite a lot of money as an authority in fuel costs but also to help achieve our net-zero carbon ambitions."