Electric vehicle charge point officially opened in Kinlochleven

Councillor Andrew Baxter cuts the ribbon with Marion Smith and Helen Thompson from the Kinlochleven Community Trust.

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The Electric Village was buzzing with excitement for electric vehicles as the charge point was opened by councillor Andrew Baxter on Saturday.

Installed and run by the Kinlochleven Community Trust (KCT), the charger is free to use until March 2020 and has two points for electric cars.

The event was marked with test drives of an electric car provided by Home Energy Scotland and electric bike rides from Off Beat Bikes.

Kinlochleven resident, Councillor Baxter said the new facility is a great step in promoting electric vehicles in Lochaber.

He said: ‘Where many people are sceptical about the use of electric technology at the moment is because the infrastructure is not there, particularly here in the Highlands. It’s really encouraging to see charging points coming to somewhere like Kinlochleven, which most people would consider quite remote. I’m delighted that my own village is leading the way with having these points and I’m looking forward to other villages in my ward and across Lochaber following suit.

‘Like many people, the concern at the moment is the cost of electric cars, but it’s a chicken and egg situation. Better infrastructure means more people will be buying and the cost to the consumer will come down.

‘I’m convinced that it won’t be too long until electric vehicles become the norm in somewhere like the Highlands.’

There was a good turnout for the official opening of the charge point with lots of test drives of the electric car and e-bikes. Photograph: Richard Mason

Located beside the community toilets, the charger is part of KCT’s green strategy and the money generated from it will go into further developments.

Marion Smith, organiser of the event and development officer for KCT, said: ‘We were delighted to receive a grant which enabled us to install the electric vehicle charging points. This development allows us to comply with our purposes which include advancing environmental protection, promoting sustainable development and conserving the natural environment by providing environmental amenities for the community of Kinlochleven.’

Funding for the charge point was given to the trust by Transport Scotland, through a programme managed by the Energy Saving Trust.

KCT is working to have provisions for campervans in the same area to make it easier for people to stop in the village and dispose of chemical waste.

Home Energy Scotland provided a fully electric Hyundai Kona, for people to test drive on the day, a car that can get 280 miles from one charge.

While electric cars are considered expensive compared to their petrol and diesel counterparts, a full charge costs less than half the equivalent in fuel.

There were also electric bikes provided by Off Beat Bikes, based in Fort William, which had a lot of interest throughout the day. The bicycles provide an extra boost for riders, particularly when going up hills.

There are grants available from the UK government for buying electric cars and the Energy Saving Trust offers an interest-free loan of up to £6,000 for an e-bike.

Matthew Eastwood, head of transport in Scotland at Energy Saving Trust, said: ‘Sales of plug-in vehicles have been increasing every year and we have no doubt that this trend will continue due to the substantial fuel cost savings that can be achieved. Facilities like these will help strengthen the national network of charging points and are crucial in supporting the growing number of EV drivers in Scotland.’