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Concerns as one in eight Northern Ireland electric car chargers are currently out of service

By Linda Stewart

Published 18/01/2016

Green Party councillor Ross Brown at a charge point
Green Party councillor Ross Brown at a charge point

One in eight public car charging points across Northern Ireland is now out of service, it can be revealed.

Green Party councillor Ross Brown, who drives an electric car, said that out of a total of 336 chargers, 41 are not functioning - just over 12% of the entire network.

Mr Brown has raised questions over the transfer of the network's ownership to the Republic's Electricity Supply Board (ESB), saying he is concerned it has had a detrimental effect on the network's maintenance and reliability.

The Department for Regional Development and the new owners blame each other for not taking responsibility.

Meanwhile, users have complained that some chargers are located on land that is inaccessible at night due to locked gates - including Sprucefield and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

There are also complaints that some chargers have been installed in car parks owned by private companies and users are being refused access unless they are a customer.

Mr Brown pointed out that the charge points were paid for with public money.

"I have never experienced any problems with the car and I have found the car to be reliable, smooth, clean and cheaper than a conventional model," he said.

"I would commend the Department for Regional Development (DRD) for their investment in the e-car charging infrastructure to date which has ensured a geographically well spread charging network.

"I am concerned, however, that the recent transfer of the ownership of the e-car charging network to ESB energy has had a detrimental impact on the network's maintenance and reliability.

"At the same time as there has been an increase in the take-up of electric cars, there has been a recent notable increase in the number of chargers in the network which are out of order to the point where 41 chargers out of a total of 336 are not functioning."

Mr Brown called on ESB to resolve the issues and in particular to ensure that the network is maintained reliably, to ensure that the e-car website details times when charge points are inaccessible due to locked gates and to ensure that businesses permit access to publicly-funded charge points that are located on private land.

"I would also call on the Department of Regional Development not to abdicate responsibility and to hold ESB to account on these issues, given that these charge points were paid for by public money," the councillor said.

E-car user Gerard Gallagher, from said: "Over time you will see that some chargers have an issue," he said.

"If they are on the charger map, they are public chargers and they should be freely available," he said. DRD said operational issues were a matter for ESB, as charge points were owned and operated by Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), a subsidiary of the ESB Group.

"NIE currently manage the day to day operation of the network working in tandem with engineers and call centre services which were procured to provide technical support," a spokesman said.

"The e-car team in the Department for Regional Development continue to liaise with ESB on network-related issues."

However, ESB said DRD are responsible for the operation and access to all public sector estate chargers.

A spokesman said: "We recognise there have been issues with some charge points and we are in discussions with the manufacturers to rectify these issues. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to EV drivers.

"DRD NI are responsible for the operation and access to all Public Sector Estate chargers.

"Please contact DRD directly in relation to these chargers."

336

the number of electric car chargers in the NI network

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