New Harrogate figures suggest rise in electric car use

Official Government statistics show Harrogate motorists are increasingly joining the electric car revolution -just as the idea of free parking for EV vehicles is being considered for the town.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 3:30 pm
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 3:44 pm
The growing popularity of electric cars in the Harrogate area may mean more charging points are needed.

The Department for Transport said that 1,566 ultra-low emission vehicles were licensed in North Yorkshire at the end of September, 2019 – 39% more than at the same point a year earlier.

The figures include battery electric, hybrid, and fuel cell electric vehicles.

Across the UK, 247,000 such vehicles were licensed at the end of September – a 33% rise on the previous year.

The growing popularity of electric cars in the Harrogate area and nationwide as North Yorkshire County Council contemplates making parking free for all fully electric cars. possibly to be operational in a matter of months.

Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access and transport, said his aim was to make it free 24/7 for fully electric cars to park in Harrogate.

Although no final decision has yet been taken on the project, if agreed, it would be the most significant step so far by local authorities to meet their pledge of creating a greener future for the town.

But the Harrogate district and the UK still has a long way to go before petrol and diesel vehicles are consigned to history.

Department for Transport figures also show that the record number of 70,000 ultra-low emission vehicles registered in the last year still only amounted to 2.4% of the three million new vehicles in the UK overall.

In 2018, the Government announced its ambition for at least half of new cars to be ultra-low emission by 2030.

But in the same year, the Government then went on to announce cuts to subsidies for green vehicles, scrapping a £2,500 grant for plug-in hybrids and slashing one for fully electric vehicles from £4,500 to £3,500.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, claimed the Government was not doing enough to encourage drivers to go electric on the roads.

Mr Hawes said the industry itself was committed to zero-emission transport, but urged the Government to encourage uptake.

He said: “Ambition must be matched by a world-class package of initiatives that encourage investment and innovation and allow manufacturers to sell competitively,” he added.

“This includes long-term government commitment to incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure.”

North Yorkshire County Council may be keen on electric cars as part of new sustainable transport policies on road traffic following the conclusion last year of the Harrogate Congestion Study, but it does not see free parking itself as desirable in the medium to long term as car manufacturing itself contributes to carbon emissions.

Currently, there are at least 15 electric charging points in the Harrogate district, including Harrogate Borough Council's public one at Harrogate Civic Centre, just off Kings Road near the town centre, which now includes three rapid chargers adjacent to three dedicated electric vehicle recharging bays.

To use the latter facility, motorists have to pay £3.50 per 30 minute period.