Planning & Environment

The Scottish Government intend to ban new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2032, 8 years ahead of the rest of the UK. This is of particular interest to me because I’m getting my first electric car in a few weeks.

My colleagues have blogged about the implications for power generation and the grid.

There’s been a predictable amount of “noise” about whether battery powered electric vehicles are the answer. There’s even been speculation whether you can boil a kettle while you’re charging your car at home.

Implications for the Planning System

If there is a substantial increase in EVs, what are the implications for the planning system? That’s hard to predict, as it will depend on people’s behaviours, as well as technical innovation.

Charging

It doesn’t take long to fill the car’s fuel tank at a filling station. In contrast, the Energy Saving Trust says most EVs are fully charged in 4-8 hours, although some can charge to 80% in 20-30 minutes.

This charging time means that an increase in EVs will require more charging points (unless research into charging while you drive surfaces on roads is successful).

On long journeys, we are all familiar with stopping at filling stations and service areas to re-fuel; there are similar opportunities for EVs to recharge.

EVs also have the opportunity for destination charging: at home, work, or shopping/ leisure locations.

Home charging

Here’s a photo of my charger, looking lonely without an EV hooked up.

Installing a charger in your driveway is straight-forward. If you have a flat with a parking space, fitting a charger can involve convoluted negotiations with all the flat owners and the factor/ managing agent. There may be a role for the planning system to encourage developers to provide flats with ready-for-charger parking spaces.

For residential areas with predominantly on-street parking, will the future see charging points installed along the whole street? That might be a design challenge in historic/ conservation areas (current permitted development rights do not apply in conservation areas).

Other destinations

Park and rides and work place parking are good locations for chargers. However, all day parking, and the charging time, in effect limits the space to one car per day. The future would have to be charging points at every space. Until then, the rather quaint advice is:

If you only need to charge for a short while, consider leaving a note with your contact details on the dashboard so other drivers can ask you to move if they need the charge more than you.

“Charge and shop” could become a marketing advantage for retail/ leisure sites if rapid charging technology develops (or am I alone in feeling that a 4 hour shopping trip is rare?). Could there even be a valet park and charge service, so charging spaces are not blocked by cars once the charging is complete?

Filling stations

The service area filling stations on main routes will probably continue to be used by EVs on longer journeys. The outlook for local filling stations is not rosy: most are not attractive places to spend 30 minutes while your EV charges up, let alone 4 hours. As numbers of ICEs (internal combustion engine vehicles) reduce, will that impact on footfall at filling station convenience stores? It seems likely there will be filling station redevelopment for the planning system to deal with.

 

Neil Collar

Neil Collar

Partner at Brodies LLP
Neil is a partner at Brodies LLP and consistently rated as one of Scotland’s leading planning lawyers. He is well known for both his planning inquiry advocacy and his advisory work. Neil has a particular interest in renewable energy developments, and heads Brodies' Renewable Energy Group.
Neil Collar