Free parking in Harrogate for electric cars on its way?
Free parking for electric cars could be introduced in Harrogate for the first time - and the scheme may even be operational in a matter of months.
Although no final decision has yet been taken on the project, if agreed, it would be the most significant step so far by local authorities to meet their pledge of creating a greener future for the town.
Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access and transport, said his aim was to make it free 24/7 for fully electric cars to park in Harrogate.
“I am very keen to introduce free on-street parking in Harrogate town centre for fully electric vehicles,” he said.
He added: "While no formal decision has yet been taken, this proposal will be included in the parking review currently nearing completion between North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council. My preference would be for this concession to be valid at all times.”
The new measure to cut Harrogate’s carbon emissions could be introduced as early as this April, providing a boost to Harrogate Borough Council’s climate change strategy which aims to transform the town into a net zero-carbon economy by 2038.
Although only 4, 600 of the UK’s 255,000 electric cars are currently fully electric, rather than hybrid, according to figures supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, sales are expected to grow massively in the near-future.
The new free parking idea is likely to be welcomed by influential local pressure group Independent Harrogate, some of whose members are set to take their seats next week at the first meeting of the new board of Harrogate Business Improvement District.
But Independent Harrogate, which now boasts 180-plus members, shows little sign of giving up on its hopes for more free parking for all cars in the town centre.
The introduction of free parking for fully electric cars ties in with Harrogate’s current bid for government cash from the Transforming Cities Fund to create new segregated cycle paths across the town.
North Yorkshire County Council may be keen on electric cars as part of new sustainable transport policies on road traffic following the conclusion last year of the Harrogate Congestion Study, but it does not see free parking itself as desirable in the medium to long term.
Coun Mackenzie said: “It is likely that free parking for fully electric cars would have to be reviewed at some stage in the future.
“At the moment, this concession would encourage the use of electric vehicles which produce no emissions harmful to air quality. But, at some point in the future, electric vehicles will become more common place.
“When that happens, parking charges for such vehicles may have to be reintroduced in order to address the problem of congestion, to which all vehicles contribute, irrespective of their power source.”
The chair of Zero Carbon Harrogate, Jemima Parker said the move could also help cut air pollution.
She said: “It would be good to encourage the switch to electric vehicles by offering this incentive. Less air pollution from electric cars will benefit all Harrogate residents, but particularly children and those with respiratory conditions.
“Electric vehicles are an important step to reducing carbon emissions as long as the electricity is generated renewably.
"Of course, in the long term we need less cars, as the manufacture of vehicles account for a huge chunk of their carbon footprint.”