Charging ahead


There has been much debate about climate change for many years now and the introduction of electrically powered vehicles has been accelerated globally in an attempt to replace conventional petrol and diesel engines to slow the effects of climate change.

There have been many hurdles to be overcome by vehicle manufacturers in the race to cut the worldwide carbon footprint. More and more electric and hybrid vehicles are appearing on our roads now but there are still major issues regarding access to charging facilities as charging points are proving very expensive to install and their success will depend on a suitable power supply being made available.

If you take Rye as an example, where do you put these charging points? Our car parks would be the obvious choice but as many are owned by Rother District Council or corporate or private landlords, they may not have the resources to install the necessary power supply and infrastructure. Much of Rye is listed as being of historical interest and the buildings and curtilages are protected by law against material changes so what is the answer?

Four charging points for paying guests

Leading by example is the Mermaid Inn, and despite being rebuilt in 1420 it is still one of the oldest buildings in Rye. But to meet current needs of its guests and customers the owners have taken the step to future-proof their business by installing four charging points but with the infrastructure in place to be able to add to these as they become more popular.

Getting to this point, however, has not been an easy ride. The whole process has taken at least 18 months of phone calls, negotiation, frustration and bureaucratic barriers. Apart from the huge financial investment required to get to this point, the process has been fraught with delays often caused by contractors who would only do what they were allowed to do and seemed unable to communicate at times with other service providers in the process.

The Mermaid Inn, adding to their history.

Luckily, the Mermaid had an adequate power source to start with but a transformer had to be installed. Parking bays were not able to be used for months whilst the ground was excavated and the hole refilled after installation, but the end result is pretty impressive.

Within the car park are now four charging points for the exclusive use of guests. These Podpoint charging points operate on an app system whereby the user has to register with the provider who monitor and effectively police the usage. An internal system at the Mermaid can be accessed by guests online and this prevents use of the charging points by any unauthorised person.

The points, as the photos prove, are very discreet – in fact if you weren’t actually looking for them you wouldn’t even notice them at all and all of this within the grounds of such an iconic building.

So it seems the introduction of new vehicle charging technology is possible if you have the budget, patience, access, knowhow, foresight, tenacity and determination. Hats off to the owners of the Mermaid Inn, leading by example and adding a little more history to an already historical building by being the first property in Rye to introduce electric vehicle charging points.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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