It is good to see that the influence of Rye News is spreading both to government and captains of industry. No sooner had we published Kevin McCarthy’s article on electric cars and charging points, last week, than an all-electric Mini was announced for next year and the Government announced that manufacture of vehicles powered solely by petrol or diesel engines would be banned from 2040. Both these came on top of the statement from Volvo that they would be producing no new models powered solely by internal combustion engines.
One of the problems with electric cars to date seems to be their very limited range before the batteries need recharging. The Nissan Leaf, for example, has a maximum possible range of 150 miles claimed by the manufacturers, although this is almost certainly in ideal conditions with no traffic problems and without needing the use of headlights, air conditioning, windscreen wipers, radio etc. On a dark, wet, cold night the actual range would probably be reduced to well under 100 miles. Charging the batteries, it is claimed, can take as little as 15 minutes. Maybe – if you have a fast-charge facility. Otherwise it can take a minimum of four hours – and who wants to sit in the electric equivalent of a filling station for half a working day?
However, the good news is that solutions to both battery life and charging are under development and in years to come it is reasonable to expect that a very short recharge time will be the norm, as will a range on one charge of around 300 miles – or approximately the same as the average family petrol car today. And with the increase in electric cars and the spur of a forthcoming ban on traditional forms of engine, there is now the incentive to come up with the solution sooner, rather than later.
Which leaves just one problem: where do you charge the battery? Public charging points – as brought out in Kevin’s article last week – are few and far between, and certainly there is not one in Rye. Of course if one has a garage or a suitable driveway, the car can be plugged in every night. However, how many houses in Rye – and certainly in the main part of the town – have either a garage or a drive? Some, certainly, but not many. So public charging points are essential and it should be a requirement for every filling station – and certainly every new one, such as the one for which planning approval is currently being sought in Udimore Road, to be required to provide at least as many fast-charging points as they would currently have pumps. Car parks – including those privately owned by individual businesses for the use of their employees – should also be included as well as kerbside facilities, particularly in residents’ parking areas, again as suggested in last week’s article.
But who will implement this? On past performance, the town council will undoubtedly say they have no power and pass it up the line to Rother, who will say that it is a county matter. They, in turn, will say it is down to Highways England, or central government or more or less anyone but themselves. But Rye can set an example, we can look to the future and ensure that our wishes and plans for traffic, parking and power supply are known and acted upon. So it is up to you now, councillors, to stop talking about whether we need a Cinque Ports branded umbrella and to devote time to considering the things that are going to make a very real difference to the future of those living and working in Rye.