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Local Authority FAQs

1. Why does our local authority need an electric vehicle charging strategy? 

SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) data shows that, as of May 2022, there are just below 500,000 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the UK, a number that is certain to continue to increase exponentially as we approach the 2030 new petrol and diesel sale ban, while the number of public charge points installed since 2011 is below 32,000.

In order to support the switch to electric vehicles, the UK government has indicated its ambition to increase the number of electric car charge points to at least 300,000 by 2030, after heavy criticism that the rollout of public infrastructure is too slow to match rapid growth in electric vehicle sales.

Supporting the transition to electric vehicles plays a significant role in helping the UK meet its Net Zero targets and presents the opportunity to transform your local transport approach towards a multi-modal active travel strategy focused on sustainability, accessibility and convenience.

2. How can our EV charging strategy help meet our climate change objectives?

Improving air quality, accelerating electric vehicle uptake, decreasing carbon emissions or noise pollution – whatever your local authority goals are, developing an electric vehicle infrastructure strategy will help you achieve them.

For example, if your main goal is improving air quality, providing reliable EV charging solutions to your residents will ease the switch to electric vehicles, which will, in turn, accelerate the decrease in carbon emissions – and with air pollution being the biggest environmental risk to human health in the UK (source), having a clear EV charging strategy in place represents a great opportunity to practically safeguard your resident’s health and wellbeing.

3. How can we future-proof our EV charging strategy?

Many think that future proofing your local EV charging infrastructure means increasing the power rating of the kit, but that isn’t necessarily true. EV charging units will inevitably become more connected – the key for future proofing your EV charging solution is ensuring it will enable upgrades over a flexible business approach. Installing what your residents need today is essential to accelerate EV uptake but being able to match their future needs too, without the heavy burden of having to replace your initial kit and effectively start again, is equally important.

Liberty Charge is passionate about delivering long-term, scalable solutions: we use a unique Geographic Information System (GIS) tool and have a highly skilled team of transport planners whose approach encompasses a detailed, data-driven analysis of your area to ensure your EV charging roll out is not just for now, but forever.

4. How can the transition to electric vehicles be facilitated for residents without off-street parking?

Around 11 million households in the UK do not have off-street parking, and without a driveway where to install their own charging unit, they will need to rely on alternative solutions for their EV charging needs.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this – there needs to be a multi-modal, comprehensive strategy that includes, for example, slow overnight on-street charging, rapid destination charging, fast “top-up” on-street charging.

At Liberty Charge we take pride in ensuring the right mix of solutions for your residents. We work in partnership with local authorities to select the right type of charge point in the right locations, allowing for the rapid growth in new EV registrations and the pent-up demand for easy and convenient charge points close to the doorstep of EV drivers.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to know more about the broad range of solutions we offer.

5. How does EV charging integrate with a wider sustainable transport strategy?

At Liberty Charge we are passionate about ensuring sustainable transport strategies prioritise active travel and public transport. We believe that where cars are needed, these should be zero emission vehicles – and to ensure this, we must enable residents to easily find EV bays to park, charge, and move on.

Electric vehicles are only part of creating a multi-modal sustainable transport strategy. We believe that EV charging solutions should integrate with public transport infrastructure and facilitate active travel where possible; and that they should be seamlessly combined with wider e-mobility hubs to include e-car clubs, e-scooters, and more.

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1. How does my local authority fund our EV charging strategy?

Several options exist for funding your EV charge point roll-out. Many local authorities choose to apply for grant funding, such as the On-street Residential Charge Scheme (ORCS) or the new Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, to cover the majority of costs; with the charge point operator (CPO) covering the remainder. These funding streams have an important role to play in the more challenging areas, where the private sector would not otherwise be able to deliver.

A key challenge going forward however, is the scale of growth required to deliver the optimum number of public chargers, and grant funding will only go so far. In order to deliver at the scale required, unlocking private sector investment will be key to ensure areas are not left behind; and that charging infrastructure roll-out does not stall and slow the transition to EVs.

Liberty Charge can privately fund 100% of the roll-out of your publicly accessible EV chargers, including on-street AC chargers, all design, construction and deployment costs, along with ongoing maintenance, operations and upgrading. Our solution fully insulates you from the utilisation risk (i.e. the risk of losing money if the charger is not well used).

This approach, in our view, offers several significant advantages over the more traditional approach of waiting for central Government grant funding to be made available, and then bidding competitively to secure any funding.

Liberty Charge are agile, moving quickly to deploy at scale without being reliant on securing grant funding. We want to work with you as a long-term partner, taking a strategic view with the support and backing of our investors: Zouk Capital, who are investing the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) on behalf of Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT), with a specific remit to deploy public chargers in areas where residents do not have access to off-street parking; and Liberty Global, who own Virgin Media/O2, and have a vast amount of infrastructure above and below ground across the UK, and with resources and operating bases already in place – enabling an efficient and cost effective roll-out.

A local authority can be completely reassured that by choosing an operator who will be fully privately funding the chargers, they will have the greatest possible incentive and commercial imperative to ensure the chargers are of the best possible quality, well maintained and well used and are in exactly the right geographical locations; as it is the only way they will see any return on their investment. Furthermore, given the very long payback periods, this is a strategic commitment, where a stable and secure partner such as Liberty Charge is critical.

By taking this approach, the scarce public funding and grants which are available can then be focused in the areas where the barriers to delivery are greatest, e.g., in areas with very high grid connection costs, or areas with low levels of demand for charging. Liberty Charge can work with you to help apply for and secure this funding.

2. What funding models can my local authority choose from?

There’s already a wide range of funding models to consider when installing public EV charging, from fully public sector funded models, to public/ private funded hybrid models, to purely private sector fully funded models.

When EVs and EV charging was in its infancy, the sector was very much reliant on public sector-led funding models in order to deploy the infrastructure. As there were very few EVs on the road, technologies were uncertain and costs were high, with little prospect of commercial returns.

As the market has matured, the public/private funded model has come to the fore, with public sector funding, typically in the form of grants awarded to a local authority by Central Government, and often used to pay for the majority of costs; with the private sector CPO covering the remainder of the cost.

A key challenge going forwards however, is that the scale of growth required in the number of public chargers is significant, and grant funding will only go so far. In order to deliver at the scale required, unlocking private sector investment will be key to ensure places are not left behind, and that charging infrastructure roll-out does not stall, and slow the transition to EVs.

Liberty Charge can fully fund your entire roll-out of publicly accessible chargers with zero requirement for public funding, including on-street AC chargers, 100% of all design, construction and deployment costs, as well as ongoing maintenance, operations and future-proofing. We also pay profit shares or bay fees to the local authority, whilst fully insulating you from the utilisation risk (i.e., the risk of losing money if the charger is not well used).

3. What government grants are there?

OZEV support the roll-out of publicly accessible EV chargers through a number of EV grant funding points, the two key initiatives being the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) and the new Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) fund.

ORCS provides funding towards the capital costs of installing public charging infrastructure for residents without private parking. It supports installations both on-street and in local authority-owned residential car parks. In the financial year 2022 to 2023, £20 million is available through ORCS. If a local authority needs guidance or support to bid for ORCS funding, the Energy Saving Trust is funded by the government to provide free, impartial advice and feedback throughout the application stage. The Energy Saving Trust’s Local Government Support Programme can also help. ORCS funding can be used to cover up to 60% of the capital costs for chargers up to 22kW, in locations where they will support residents without access to off-street parking.

Local EV Infrastructure Fund (LEVI) – To test the design of the new scheme OZEV launched a £10 million pilot competition, to trial a range of different innovative approaches to deploying EV charging, including delivery models which will reduce the requirement for public funding. The scheme will then be launched later in 2022/23, with £450 million available to help local authorities leverage private sector investment into their local charging networks and put in place long-term, sustainable charging infrastructure. 

Workplace Charging Scheme – The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) can help local authorities to electrify their own fleets and help transition their staff to EVs. The scheme provides up to £350 for each charge point socket installed at a site, with applicants being able to receive grants for up to 40 sockets. The WCS has recently been opened to small accommodation businesses and the charity sector, to accelerate EV uptake in rural areas and support the UK tourist industry.

EV charge point grants for homes – local authorities that own social housing can apply to the EV charge point grant for landlords. This will provide grants of up to £350 towards the cost of purchasing and installing a charge point, with up to 200 grants a year available for each local authority. Additional support will be available in the near future for local authorities to help install EV charge points in residential apartment block parking spaces. The EV charge point grant for residential carparks will provide grants of up to £30,000 towards the cost of installing EV charge points in such properties.

Rapid Charging Fund (RCF) – The £950 million RCF will ensure there is an ultra-rapid charging network along motorways and major A-roads by funding a portion of costs at strategic sites where upgrading connections to the electricity grid is prohibitively expensive.

4. What kind of procurement route can my local authority use?

There is a wide range of procurement frameworks and tender portals local authorities can use when deploying EV infrastructure.

One the most commonly used frameworks is Crown Commercial Services (CCS) – VCIS (Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Solutions), which has been designed to allow buyers to build their own specifications, competitions and contracts but provides a standardised process, which can save time as opposed to starting from scratch with a conventional public competition.

Other widely used frameworks include the Oxfordshire County Council framework and the new Scotland Excel framework. Liberty Charge can be procured via any of these frameworks, either directly or through a partner.

5. What standard approaches for tendering can my local authority use?

Once you have a strategy in place and are clear on your objectives, it is advisable to begin by engaging the market through soft market testing in the form of a Request for Information (RFI). This can be used to test the likely responsiveness of the market to your tender, what you are asking the market to supply and operate, the initial thinking around potential commercial terms and assessment criteria.

The feedback will provide a useful steer on whether aspects of the tender will need re-thinking, or the requirements revising, in order to attract competitive bids that will deliver against the overarching objectives and offer good value for money. This should reduce the requirement for changes being made during the tender process itself, with all parties having a better understanding of what is required and what is deliverable; ultimately saving you time and money in the long term.

Once the RFI has been completed, an Invitation To Tender (ITT) can be prepared. Many of the frameworks provide a standardised process, which can then be tailored with your specific requirements.

6. How can my local authority build a successful tender?

In order to build a successful tender, it is important to have a clear strategy and an overarching set of objectives you are working towards. For example, is the overarching objective your net zero commitments, improved local air quality, enabling residents/ visitors/ businesses to switch to EV? Ensuring EV infrastructure is in place to offer equitable access to chargers.

Engage with the market to understand what can be delivered commercially, what the sticking points may be and how best to structure your tender to deliver against your objectives.

Ensure that you do not allow charge point operators (CPOs) to cherry pick only the best sites and leave you with all the poorest performing sites. Take a portfolio approach instead, including a mix of sites or areas in what you offer up to the market.

Seek to attract as much private sector investment as possible, focusing any grant funding that is available where it is most needed. To do this it will be important to offer a sufficiently long contract to allow the CPO to repay their investment costs and have greater confidence in seeing a return on their investment. This may be around 10-15 years.

If it is a fully privately funded deployment you can rest assured that the CPO will be highly motivated to ensure the chargers are well maintained and utilised as it is the only way they will see a return on their investment.

Avoid granting exclusivity to a single CPO across wide areas. Whilst it makes sense to do this in smaller car parks, generally it is much better for there to be competition amongst CPOs, as this will drive up standards and keep tariffs competitive.

Try to avoid being too prescriptive in terms of what the solution should be, and just frame the challenge and requirements, leaving the respondents to propose innovative business models and charger options.

Liberty Charge will always advocate working with you to develop a tailored solution, with a mix of charger types across the full range of options to choose from; to best suit the specific needs and characteristics of any given street, car park or neighbourhood.

Encourage tenderers to adopt a longer-term approach and demonstrate their commitment to the area.

Ensure tender scoring incentivises not only deploying the greatest number of chargers, but also considers that the appropriate charge points are being proposed in the right locations, with suitable future proofing and growth in line with projected demand.

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1. How can my local authority decide where to locate EV charge points?

A data-driven approach is best suited when determining optimal locations for charge points – there are many factors that should be taken into consideration: accessibility, the optimal type of charging in that location (e.g., overnight charging, fast or rapid charging), future EV growth, any power grid constraints, other existing EV charging infrastructure – just to name a few.

Liberty Charge has a dedicated and experienced in-house planning team, who use a dedicated Geographical Information System tool to collect data on housing type, car registrations and relevant demographics to ensure your EV infrastructure is located exactly where it needs to be, to answer your current and future residents’ EV charging needs.

2. How many publicly accessible electric vehicle charge points does my local authority need?

The number of electric vehicle charge points needed in your area will vary depending on a multitude of factors, such as the geographical size and population density of your council. There is specific data that can help inform this decision; however, it is important to understand the current and future demand from residents as well.  You might already have examples of residents setting up their own ways to charge their vehicles, and it’s important to focus on these areas quickly to ensure everyone’s safety and to encourage the right approach.

At Liberty Charge we will work with local authorities to demonstrate how we find the right solution. We’ll walk you through a variety of data sources, including, but not limited to: ANPR data, current available electricity capacity within the area, existing vehicle makeup and resident demand to get an idea of how many – and what type of – charge points are needed and where to locate them.

3. What kind of EV charge points should my local authority deploy?

It is widely accepted that a range of charging solutions will be the best approach to meet all residents’ needs. This range will cover trickle charge points below 7kW for overnight charging, all the way to ultra-rapid at 350kW for a quick stop-and-charge. The exact mix will depend on the network capacity and geographical areas, following deeper analysis of where you are planning to deploy the charge points – our team of town planners is invaluable here.

4. What, if any, are the limitations of the electricity grid in my local authority?

The Distribution Network Operator’s (DNO) connection is incredibly important when trying to decide where EV charge points will go in your local area. If there isn’t available capacity, it dramatically restricts what type of charge points can be installed within that area. Therefore, understanding where there is capacity can speed up the site selection process.  We can work with you to mitigate any issue and install the right EV charging solution for the area.

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1. What does a successful charge point location look like?

A successful charge points location is one that takes into consideration at a multitude of factors – what type of charging is most suited to the area, the number of EV drivers in that location today and projected, the presence of other street furniture, the width of the pavement, accessibility for disabled use and more. Ensuring that the charge point can blend into the local environment without causing any disruption to the area is essential.

The planning team at Liberty Charge will assist you every step of the way to make sure the EV charge points are placed in the best locations within your area.

2. How is site selection carried out?

When planning to install EV charging infrastructure, you will need to implement a comprehensive site selection process, which follows a specific set of criteria. Some of the factors you’ll want to look at are the width of pavement and road, the presence of electrified street furniture, existing electrical infrastructure, residential windows or doors, and more.

Our team of expert town planners will offer you invaluable support to make sure this is carried out to the highest standards.

3. How can my local authority engage residents?

Residents can be engaged in numerous ways, from dedicated events, meetings and workshops to online communications and the use of social media, to printed surveys and more. The main goal of resident engagement is to capture and take into consideration resident feedback; shaping your rollout to deliver against resident’s needs.

4. What are the minimum technical requirements?

The IET Wiring Regulations and the IET Code of Practice for Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment should always be followed when planning and deploying EV charging infrastructure.

At Liberty Charge, we ensure all sites are review against the latest IET code of Practice for Electric charging equipment, making all sites compliant and safe during the selection process. 

Selected sites are also checked with the local Distribution Network Operators (DNO) maps for available power capacity and connection to the grid. This is checked as early as possible to make sure the site can support the infrastructure being proposed. 

5. What is the difference between virtual and physical site inspections?

Generally speaking, the virtual or online inspection is used to obtain an initial overview of a site, but it should always be followed by a physical inspection or survey to make sure no relevant factors are missed.

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1. What are the different delivery stages?

The delivery of EV charging solutions is usually made up of three main steps: infrastructure installation (feeder pillars, ducting and sockets; power connection; metering), charge point installation, and then commissioning.

2. What kind of lead times are standard?

These can vary greatly depending on your provider. Liberty Charge aims to complete the end-to-end construction & installation within 10 working days.

3. What type of permits are needed?

The permits that should be looked at are Section 50 – New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, and Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) or bay suspensions to suspend the bays for the duration of works.

4. What will be expected of my team during the delivery stage? 

This varies, but generally, you might be asked to approve site locations and site designs and/or to install bay markings/signage, although Liberty Charge is able to provide this for you.

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