Swindon’s progress on green initiatives revealed as COP26 talks continue

SWINDON’S progress on green initiatives has been revealed as world leaders gather for COP26 in Glasgow to find solutions for the climate crisis.

And it is falling behind when it comes to electric charging points, with only four added across Swindon in the year up to October according to latest government figures. 

Swindon Borough Council says 11 more have been added since then – but this still puts the town’s rollout below the country’s average.

Part of the government’s net zero by 2050 strategy involves dedicating £620 million to support the rollout of charging infrastructure nationally.

An Electric Vehicle Charge Point Roll Out Strategy to 2030 report was presented to the council’s cabinet in July. This sets out the options available for increasing the number of charging points.

There has since been a public consultation and the council said it expects the number of charging points will increase “significantly” over the next 12 months.

But Swindon Area Green Party’s Bradley Williams believes the council needs to act quicker. He said: “World leaders are meeting to decide on a plan to address the climate crisis, and we’re calling on Swindon Borough Council to show the same level of urgency in making Swindon a cleaner, greener town.

“It’s disappointing to see that Swindon is well below the national average in rolling out charging points for electric vehicles when more and more people in Swindon are trying to do the right thing by switching from petrol or diesel to electric.” 

Swindon had 47 charging points at the start of October which was up from 43 the year before. This means there are 21 charging points per 100,000 people which is well below the UK average of 39 per 100,000. 

Even incorporating the extra 11 charging points that the council say have been installed since then, this puts the number per 100,000 at 26 which is still below average.

Mr Williams added: “Swindon Borough Council needs to get its act together and make sure that people have access to EV charging points wherever they need them – I’ve noticed how few there are in areas such as St Andrews, where I live. 

“Swindon’s residents need these charging points to be able to get around, and with such high levels of air pollution on our streets, we urgently need to do all we can do reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel road traffic.”          

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “We have added a further 11 electric-vehicle charging points in key locations chosen by local residents.

These are the borough’s first on-street electric vehicle charging points and have the capacity to charge two cars each. 

“We hope they will encourage more residents to make the switch to zero emission vehicles.

“Our Electric Vehicle Charging Point Strategy sets out how we will increase the availability of EV infrastructure across the borough over the next decade. The planning permission for many of Swindon’s new developments require them to be installed.”

Part of this draft strategy includes figures that show the number of electric vehicles registered in SN postcodes since 2017 has risen by 54 per cent on average a year. 

The council’s report came after the government’s announcement of plans to ban the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

The report states: “Swindon Borough Council needs to start preparing for this transition so that local businesses, residents and visitors, particularly those without access to off road parking, are not disadvantaged.”

But new data also shows that Swindon seems to be heading in the right direction when it comes to another key government policy to reduce carbon emissions.

The number of households with renewable heating systems in Swindon has doubled in the last year.

There were 76 systems recorded in Swindon households in September which is up from the 37 recorded the year before.  

These systems have been installed through the Renewable Heat incentive. People who join the RHI receive quarterly payments for the amount of clean, green heat their system produces. 

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