Driving Northumberland forward: £2.5million vehicle spending decision delayed as electric vehicles considered

Northumberland County Council’s aim to use more electric and hybrid vehicles has led to more than £2.5million of planned spending to be deferred.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 1:11 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th February 2020, 2:43 am
File picture of an electric vehicle charging point

A report to a meeting of the authority’s communities and place committee explained that the fleet replacement budget for 2019/20 was originally meant to total around £7million.

However, it is now being forecast that only around £4.6million will be spent, with another £2.5million moved into next year’s plan.

In large part, this is to enable electrification of the fleet where possible after the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.

For example, 53 small vans were up for replacement this year and while 10 had to be replaced immediately, the remaining 43 have been kept on for now, while a business case is drawn up for electric/hybrid vehicles.

The meeting heard there “not yet” enough charging points.

Coun Brian Gallacher asked if this would be done in conjunction with the roll-out of public charging points and was assured it was being coordinated by the council’s improvement and innovation team to avoid any duplication.

There is a requirement for some of the points to be at the council’s depots. Fleet manager Davey Robertson highlighted data from the vans shows most don’t cover more than 100 miles in a day and the range of electric vehicles is around 150 miles.

Some of the depots are coming up to capacity so the council will need to look at upgrading the electricity supply at those sites.

Coun Gallacher also asked about planning for the future on the back of the Government announcement that the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles is to be brought forward to 2035.

Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for the environment, said: “It has brought into sharp focus just how close this is and I’m sure a lot of work will need to be done in the next few years on the wider fleet.”

He added that larger, more specialised electric vehicles, such as bin wagons, are not necessarily available yet, while also cautioning against going overboard with charging points, for example, when the technology could become obsolete.