WHEN private hire driver Mark Greenhalgh signed up to the Scottish Government’s electric car scheme, it was to do his bit to meet ambitious emissions targets.
But 18 months on, and a frustrated Mr Greenhalgh has been left combing the Capital for power with charge points out of order.
He finally found a working charger outside St Andrew’s House in Regent Road yesterday only to be moved on – by government staff who should be championing the scheme.
“They’re trying to get people to use electric vehicles but we’re not allowed to use the charger,” asked an exasperated Mr Greenhalgh, 53.
A member of the free-to-join Holyrood and city council ChargePlace Scotland scheme, Mr Greenhalgh assumed he could use the St Andrew’s machine as it boasts a huge “free charging” sign.
“There’s a big sign up saying I could use it and the machine recognised my card,” he said. “They just said that’s wrong and they’re trying to change it.”
“It’s a free electric vehicle charge point but the security guy said I can’t use it unless I’m staff or visiting someone in the building,” he said.
Matters are made worse still with the charger at Edinburgh College out of action for three days and one in Niddrie without power for five weeks.
That means dwindling options for Mr Greenhalgh and the rest of the city’s ever-expanding fleet of electric vehicles.
A charger in Fountainbridge is still working as is one in Clermiston, but many other options are outside the city centre at park and rides or Edinburgh Airport.
The nature of his work means Mr Greenhalgh and fellow private hire drivers need a rapid charger that can get to 90 per cent within 30 minutes – or risk losing fares.
“When I go to charge there’s almost always someone else sat at the charge points so I have to wait for them to finish, he said.
Mr Greenhalgh called for more charge points to be installed and those currently out of order to be brought back into use.
“I was told the one in Niddrie had been vandalised but I went to look and there’s no damage, it’s just not got any power,” he said.
“It’s always been poor but we need more charge points. More and more drivers are looking at electric but there aren’t enough charge points.”
Since 2012, the Scottish Government has spent £30 million on charge points nationally with 40 in the Capital, said a spokesman. It aims to phase out all fossil-fuel engines by 2032.
“We’re very sorry that we weren’t able to help Mr Greenhalgh charge his vehicle,” he added. “Regrettably, due to increased security restrictions, it’s no longer possible to let members of the public access the charge points at St Andrew’s House.”
The city council will unveil new plans for additional charge points in October.
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “We’re making great progress to helping residents and organisations make the switch from fossil-fuelled to electric vehicles.”