Legal wrangle stalls new electric car charger switch on

The rapid car charger still in wrapping at the Ellon Park and Ride site

A publicly-funded £25,000 electric car charger has sat idle for more than a year after sparking a legal wrangle between a supermarket giant and the council.

The facility was installed at the Ellon Park and Ride site in March last year to allow drivers to give their eco-friendly cars a rapid boost.

But it needs to be wired into a transformer which is on land owned by Tesco – and Aberdeenshire Council has been frustrated in efforts to secure the retailer’s permission.

The delay has prompted one frustrated Ellon commuter, engineer Alan Curragh, to voice his anger at the lack of action.

Mr Curragh makes the daily 60-mile round trip to Aberdeen for work and has ordered two new electronic cars for himself and his wife, but is astonished that the equipment is still not fully commissioned.

He said: “I find it really offensive that Tesco have hindered the installation, especially as the council has been so keen and pro-active to install chargers elsewhere.

“My wife’s car arrives next week and we were hoping that the Ellon charger would be in operation by then. It would just give us some reassurance to know that she could stop off in Ellon on the way home and get charged up quickly if need be.

“We live slightly out of the town, so the mileage range is being pushed to the limit.”

Extra voltage is required for the rapid charger and it needs to be wired into a larger transformer box located on Tesco land.

The Evolt 50kw charger would be able to re-charge a car in 15 to 20 minutes as opposed to the 20kw units that can take up to five hours and the standard three-point plug method that needs an overnight charge.

The other nearest rapid chargers are located in Aberdeen, Inverurie and Peterhead.

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “We are currently in discussions with Tesco regarding access to the site which is adjacent to their store to allow for the upgrade work to take place.”

Ellon and district councillor Isobel Davidson is also frustrated at the hold-up.

She said: “There has been an on-going problem with Tesco refusing to allow access for the installation of the rapid charging cabling. It would appear that council has retained a right of access and Tesco are currently considering this.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are supportive of the council’s aspirations for electric charging to be available in Ellon and we continue to discuss access to our land with the council.”