THE leader of the opposition on North Yorkshire Council has wished the authority “good luck” in establishing a comprehensive network of electric vehicle (EV) charging points after hearing the local electricity grid was “not fit for purpose”.

A meeting of the council's executive was told the authority was so concerned about it impeding the establishment of the required 3,000 publicly available EV charging points by 2030 that the authority was investigating using solar and hydro-electric solutions to provide power in some places.

Setting out a strategy to rapidly expand EV charging points, Councillor Keane Duncan, the authority’s executive member for highways and transportation, said the council was determined rural areas should not “fall behind”.

However, he said the rural nature of North Yorkshire and electricity grid constraints meant the county faced a relatively greater challenge in preparing for the switch to electric vehicles than elsewhere.

In addition, the relatively high proportion of properties in the county with no off-street parking – some 21 per cent – would mean a greater demand for publicly available EV charging points than elsewhere.

The meeting heard while the council was developing on-street charging proposals it was focused on creating the publicly available EV charging points at “hub locations” where it would be convenient for residents and visitors to use them, rather than “tucked away in the corner of a car park”.

Executive members were told with £3.4m of funding already secured to expand EV charging points, the council had obtained more money than any other local authority in the country for the programme.

The council is also optimistic about landing a further £5.1m of capital and £500,000 of revenue funding to deliver on its EV charging network aspirations, but the meeting was told the lack of power grid capacity would be a key factor in the council’s ability to create an EV charging network.

Harrogate councillor Paul Haslam warned the meeting the lack of availability on the power grid could “make a mess of our strategy if we’re not careful”.

The council’s climate change boss Cllr Greg White added: “It’s great that we are going to have all these charging points, but are we going to have an electrical supply to these charging points to make them work because the local electricity distribution network at the moment doesn’t seem like it’s going to be fit for purpose.”

Wishing the council “good luck” in overcoming the challenges, Cllr Bryn Griffiths said the authority had reached “a drop in the ocean of where we need to be” in securing EV charging infrastructure, before receiving reassurances that the authority would consider changing planning policies to increase charging opportunities.

The authority’s chief executive, Richard Flinton, told the meeting how he and leaders of North Yorkshire businesses had held talks with Northern Powergrid officials and the National Infrastructure Commission last week to tell them the lack of grid connectivity was damaging businesses.

He said the council had been regularly lobbying the electricity infrastructure firm to develop capacity on the grid.

Mr Flinton added: “We are startlingly aware that when we move into post-2030 the requirement that cars are going to be non-fossil fuel that there could be an impact on North Yorkshire, and even the transition period before we move entirely to electric fuel vehicles could be problematic for North Yorkshire if we don’t get this right.

“We are in the hands of others, but we are working very hard to make those other parties understand that we in North Yorkshire are very concerned about this and require their engagement on our issues.”

Northern Powergrid is yet to respond to requests for comment.