A new £60 million fund could double the size of the public electric vehicle charging network in Scotland.

The cash, which will be made available to local authorities over the next four years, is part of the Scottish Government’s vision for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The draft plan, unveiled by transport secretary Michael Matheson at the Scottish Parliament yesterday, outlines the “accessible, affordable and reliable” public network required for the future. 

A just transition – where “no one is left behind from the benefits afforded” by the move to a net zero transport system – is at the heart of the approach.

The £60m ‘public electric vehicle infrastructure fund’ will build on existing provision and seek to deliver more chargers in the right places, while aiming to attract investment from the private sector. Approximately half of the funding is anticipated to be invested from the private sector.

In his statement to Holyrood, Matheson said: “I’m pleased to outline a new vision for the public electric vehicle charging network. Even though we prioritise funding in active travel and sustainable public transport, cars and vans will still have a role to play and particularly in rural areas. To meet our climate targets, we need these vehicles to be electric, and so we require a seamless network of public electric vehicle chargers, that works for everyone, all of the time.  

“Our draft vision provides a clear picture of what electric vehicle charging networks must deliver for drivers across Scotland, and our priorities for achieving those changes.  We need a just transition, where accessibility, availability and reliability is key and where no one is left behind from the positive shift to zero emission transport system – including rural and island communities.

“We have invested over £50 million to create a network with over 2,100 public charge points across Scotland. With demand for electric vehicles rapidly increasing thanks to government incentives and support – public and private sector partnerships will now be key in attracting investment and scaling provision at pace. The £60m Public Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund will draw in and smooth commercial investment so that the future charging network works for everyone, while at the same time potentially doubling the size of our public network here in Scotland.

“I understand the concerns people have raised around the potential for charging infrastructure impeding pedestrian access to pavements and their ability to move around freely. We can do things better. And I am pleased to confirm that we will soon begin working with design specialists at V&A Dundee to plan a public network that works for all. This ground-breaking approach will see people’s diverse needs and interests shape the future network.”

The minister also explained how the vision relates to wider policies, including the commitment to reduce car kilometres travelled by 20 per cent by 2030.

And to speed up new strategies and help better identify charge point requirements across Scotland, he announced £350,000 to support six pathfinder projects across Scotland.

Neil Swanson from the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland said: “The shift from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles is going to be one of the largest examples of public or private policy implementation of the next decade.

“Electric vehicle drivers’ associations play an instrumental role in providing a support network for individuals using electric modes of transport and promoting the benefits of the electrification of transport for our environment, our health and our economy.

“Supporting the Scottish Government towards net zero carbon emissions and the incredible work pioneered by local authorities is our main objective and what we will continue to do.

“We warmly welcome the publication of the draft Vision that puts everyone front and centre of a public electric vehicle charging network that’s fit for the future. The network needs to continue to grow in a way that ensures no part of Scotland is left behind and we will continue to engage with government on how this draft vision can best be realised for the benefit of EV drivers across Scotland.”

The new vision for Scotland’s public electric vehicle charging network can be found here.

Further information on how the Scottish Government is working to decarbonise road transport is available on the Transport Scotland website.