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Opposition stops electric charging stations plan in its tracks

Wellington City Council has been forced to park a plan to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the city after strong opposition.

Photo: 123RF

Council documents said 750 Wellingtonians had electric vehicles – but not all had somewhere handy to plug them in.

The council wanted to set up 19 charging stations, each with two car parks, across the city.

But some residents told the council they were unhappy with their parking spaces being taken.

Elizabeth Bush-King told councillors no-one living in her Brooklyn cul-de-sac affected by the proposal wanted the charging station to be installed there.

The council should have responded to submissions against the proposal, she said.

“Instead here we are, I am here today – we have been left to dispute this at the last minute in the actual council meeting where the proposal’s being signed off,” Ms Bush-King said.

“That is not right.”

She said the consultation seemed to have been lazy, and she and her neighbours were angry.

Holloway Road resident Josephine McLean said the cost to replace batteries in electric vehicles, many of them coming to New Zealand second hand, was very prohibitive to people buying the cars.

Those against where the chargers might go – said they weren’t opposed to electric vehicles, but losing car parks in busy streets.

Council figures showed 687 people supported the 19 proposed locations, and 95 opposed them.

Alice Hume was one of those supporters.

Her family wanted an electric vehicle, but didn’t have a garage, and couldn’t stretch a power cord down to their car.

“When we saw the charging scheme application process open we thought this is a great intiative from the council and this will really help us out in terms of achieving our family’s sustainability goals.”

But the strong words from those opposed was enough to stop the council voting on where the parks might go.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman said his impression was the proposal had strong support.

He said while the council wanted to be on the leading edge on such issues, it did not need to be on the bleeding edge.

“The last thing I want to do is cause huge ructions by proposing putting in some sites that are clearly debatable.”

Mayor Justin Lester moved a procedural motion, that council officers take another look at the proposal, and councillors could consider it again in the New Year.

Story: Laura Dooney, Wellington Issues reporter – RNZ