A £5.4 million plan to more than triple the number of electric car charging points in Ayrshire has been approved.

The proposals, which would see the Electric Vehicle (EV) network transferred to a private sector partner, covers all three Ayrshire authorities, with East Ayrshire Council having the lead role.

South Ayrshire would see 111 more EV charging points under the plan.

Free electric vehicle charging in Ayrshire is coming to an end, with tariffs set to be introduced this year.

Kevin Braidwood, head of roads at the Ayrshire Roads Alliance, told South Ayrshire Council’s cabinet about the expansion this week.

With a lack of charging points seen as the biggest barrier to electric vehicle take up, the plan seeks to transition from the current publicly-funded Ayrshire-wide network of 126 charging points to work with the private sector and increase this to 433.

The number of new charging points proposed is 111, with North Ayrshire getting a further 104, while East Ayrshire, which currently has around half of Ayrshire’s EV charging points, will get another 91.

The majority of the proposed South Ayrshire facilities are lower powered residential chargers, with 35 intermediate ‘destination’ chargers and seven rapid charging points.

The number of sites being considered by town (some may have more than one charging point per site) is as follows.

Ayr - 40

Troon - 13

Girvan - 9

Prestwick - 8

Maybole - 7 

Mossblown, Dundonald and Tarbolton - 3 each

Crosshill, Barrhill, Coylton, Ballantrae - 2 each

Symington, Loans, Colmonell, Dailly, Straiton, Kirkoswald, Maidens,                            Kirkmichael, Dunure, Hillhead - 1 each

Mr Braidwood also reported that there had been an exercise to determine how many charging points, across both the public and private network, were required in South Ayrshire by 2025.

The lowest estimate is 176; the highest is 502.

Any number beyond the expected 137 council-installed facilities would need to be made up by the private sector.

While there are significantly fewer charge points in South Ayrshire, the programme attracted the same amount of support, of £740,000, from Transport Scotland’s local authority installation programme. 

However, this fund is coming to an end.

The overall ‘upfront’ cost of the Ayrshire wide scheme, based on 2022 figures, is £5.4m, with Scottish Government grant funding of around £3.2m, private sector investment of £2m and £200k of operational funding.

In his report, Mr Braidwood states: “The preferred mechanism is the model where the EV network would be leased via a concession contract to an experienced commercial operator.”

 The Ayrshire business case has been developed to ensure charging points are available in rural, remote and deprived areas, rather than be limited to ‘commercially attractive’ locations.

The proposal would see the existing council-run charging points transferred to a private-sector partner who would be responsible for all of the associated costs.

The plan has several key elements for choosing EV points, including:

- Aiming for 99 per cent of Ayrshire properties without off-street parking to be within a 10-minute drive of a charge point

- Ensuring rural provision is made ‘viable’

- Installing points in areas of deprivation

- Utilising petrol stations, supermarkets and retail parks that can be developed into future charging sites

- Ensuring proximity to trunk roads

- Helping promote high streets and town centres

- Considering proximity to public transport and active travel infrastructure.

Mr Braidwood continues: “The recommendations mostly focus on providing destination charging at car parks owned by the councils at schools, leisure centres or near high streets.”

The council will carry out further assessment of the proposed charging facilities, including public consultation.

If the partnership approach goes ahead, the councils would no longer be responsible for electricity bills, repairs, maintenance contracts and replacement of the existing network.

The report states that a survey showed 43 per cent of people cited the lack of charging infrastructure as the main reason for not going electric.