Council charging ahead with Electric Vehicle initiatives
By Ewa Meyer, Convenor Renew Hunter Region Branch.
Following on from our successful Travelling Electric event held in May, three members of Renew Hunter Branch were recently invited to attend a meeting with Port Stephens Council staff from the Strategy and Environment Section to follow up on Council’s plans to facilitate EV charging infrastructure in our LGA.
At the Council meeting on 11 April 2023, a motion by Cr Leah Anderson was passed based on recommendations related to the NSW Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy. This included looking at what changes are needed to its 2014 Development Control Plan (DCP) to facilitate ongoing EV uptake, to seek grant funding for the addition of EVs in the Council fleet and to develop a process to work with charging providers to install services on Council-owned property and infrastructure.
In relation to the DCP, a study is underway to review EV Strategies and DCPs in other NSW LGAs as well as refer to the National Construction Code.1 The aim is to recommend DCP controls to ensure that as development occurs in Port Stephens we are building in the flexibility to adapt to what is a rapidly evolving situation. Recommendations from this report will go to Council in the coming months. Renew Hunter Branch will share more details as they become available including any opportunities for community input into the proposed DCP amendments.
At our meeting with Council staff, Les Pinney a local EV owner, presented some options for charging infrastructure as well as a map of the region showing the current scarcity of public chargers. We had a discussion about the possibility of power poles and electricity boxes being used in collaboration with Ausgrid as they already have similar partnerships with charging providers in other LGA’s. 2 The electricity supply is already there without the need for much additional connection work.
We were also pleased to hear that Port Stephens Council is a member of Sustainability Advantage, a NSW State Government initiative helping businesses and Councils to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices.3
For the Council vehicle fleet, they are looking to the evolving EV Ute market as this is identified as an area of significant opportunity.
Many thanks to Crs Leah Anderson and Jason Wells for attending Renew Hunter’s Travelling Electric in May, and for putting us in touch with Council’s planning staff for us to open up communication on this critical issue. Visitors to Port Stephens driving EVs from beyond our region desperately need local charging facilities. It is essential infrastructure for our local tourism industry and we don’t want to get left behind.
1 From October 2023 the updated National Construction Code (NCC) incorporates minimum requirements (within new developments) for the provision of infrastructure to support installation of EV charging points at 100% of car parks in residential and 20% of car parks in commercial buildings. These requirements will work alongside any changes to the DCP that may be adopted by Port Stephens Council.
3 Sustainability Advantage – NSW State Government