SWINDON'S first on-street vehicle charging points have been installed around town.

The council has completed 22 new parking bays in locations picked by neighbours in the central and Eastcott wards to encourage more people to switch to a zero-emission vehicle.

This comes after the local authority ran a survey last year to understand where in the borough had the highest demand for these charging points and then secured funding from the government for 11 double-headed chargers.

There are four parking bays in Broad Street, Milton Road and Ashford Road, as well as two each in Westmorland Street, Dixon Street, Maidstone Road, William Street, and Ford Street.

It will cost 25p per KWh, or around 7p per mile, to use the charging points but this is cheaper than filling up petrol or diesel. The charging points will be operated by EB Charging and drivers can download the EB Go app to manage their charging.

Louise from Eastcott currently drives a small petrol car but has wanted to replace it with an electric car for some time.

She said: “Electric vehicles can have a significant role in shifting away from our reliance on fossil fuels. I'm really pleased to see the council continuing to take an active role in decarbonisation and cleaner air.

"Given the urgency of addressing climate change, finding opportunities to build the infrastructure we need is a great investment for tomorrow.

“Access to charging facilities is a great step forward in neighbourhoods like mine, where most drivers rely on on-street parking. I would say I am very confident that my next car will be an electric vehicle.”

Andy lives in the same area. He said: “I bought an electric vehicle in 2018 but home charging is not possible in a terraced street. These charging points are a real benefit to me and should enable more residents to consider changing to an electric vehicle.”

Up to March 31 2020, there were 1,537 registrations for pure battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Swindon. During the following 12 months, this increased by 82 per cent, to 2,810 registrations, and the council hopes to see this figure rise further over the next few years.

Coun Keith Williams is Swindon Borough Council's cabinet member for climate change. He said: “Over the next few years, encouraging more residents to make the switch to an electric vehicle will play a key role in reducing Swindon’s carbon emissions and help us join the journey to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in line with the government’s target.

"But, in order to do this, it’s important we have the infrastructure in place to make it simple and convenient for residents to use electric vehicles.

“With the COP 26 taking place in Glasgow this week, climate change is rightly dominating the world agenda. But it’s not just down to world leaders to make a difference. We all have an important part to play and by introducing these charging points in the most requested areas of the town, and by developing our wider electric vehicle charging point strategy, we hope to see more residents being the change and switching to electric vehicles.”

An experimental traffic regulation order is now in place so that the council can receive feedback before January 31 about the restricted charging point bays, which can only be used by neighbours with a resident zone parking permit and an electric vehicle.

The council will review the comments received and use them to decide if the bays will become permanent.

Earlier this year, the government announced it will aim to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, compared with levels in 1990, taking the UK more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net zero by 2050.

In the UK, transport is the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions, producing 27 per cent of the country's total emissions in 2019, with cars and taxis the biggest contributors to this at 61 per cent.

Last November, the prime minister announced that the government would end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, with all new cars and vans being fully zero emission from 2035.

But for this to happen, there needs to be the right infrastructure in place to allow people to switch to electric or hybrid vehicles.

EB Charging CEO Alex Calnan, said: “We started EB Charging to help Britain's towns and cities achieve zero emissions, and we’re very happy to be working with Swindon Borough Council on their ambitious plans.

"Installing 22 charging bays exclusively for EV use is just the kind of bold thinking residents, businesses and visitors need to see to be confident to make the switch to electric, and should be applauded.”

For more information and to send feedback, visit www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20135/traffic_management/657/find_out_about_traffic_regulation_orders_tros/6

The installation of the charging points is part of the council's wider action plan to tackle climate change. To find out more, visit www.swindon.gov.uk/bethechange or www.swindontravelchoices.co.uk/getting-around/car/electric-vehicles/