It will soon be illegal to park a petrol or diesel car at any of Lancashire’s on-street electric vehicle charging points - meaning motorists could be fined if they do so.
The new regulations - which have been given the green light by Lancashire’s County Council’s cabinet - will also stipulate that even electric vehicles parked in the specially-reserved spaces must actually be getting recharged at the time.
Currently, the restrictions governing use of the charging facilities have no legal force behind them and are reliant on the courtesy of drivers to obey kerbside signs.
A total of 150 charging points - some of which are already in operation - are being installed across Lancashire as part of efforts to reduce the county’s carbon footprint.
They are located in existing on-street parking bays that have been converted for the purpose, but cabinet members heard that complaints were being received about the chargers being cut off by motorists ineligible to be parking there.
The new waiting restrictions will reflect the type of charging facility that has been installed in each location. The majority are so-called ‘destination chargers’ which take three hours to power a vehicle from low to maximum charge. However, there are a limited number of ‘rapid chargers’ which can complete the process in an hour.
At all the locations, a return to the bays within two hours will be prohibited and any electric vehicle parked there must be on charge, so that the facilities do not just provide free parking for environmentally-conscious motorists.
“Modern developments have outstripped the regulations and need addressing,” county council leader Geoff Driver said.
A public consultation into the proposed restrictions drew one objection - specifically relating to Colne - which stated that the facilities were taking up vital on-street parking space and should have been allowed to operate as shared bays, in which traditional vehicles were still allowed to park.
But highways bosses said that such a move would have defeated the object of the roll-out and added that the provision of charging points would become “an asset” to the areas that have them as take-up of electric vehicles increases.
County Hall also rejected a call for the charging bay road markings to be coloured blue instead of the usual white, so that drivers could more easily distinguish between them and ordinary spaces.
Papers presented to cabinet members revealed the difficulty of identifying suitable locations for the charging points.
They needed to be in an area of “expected need, where an electric supply was sufficient and convenient to ensure the connection costs were financially viable, [and] had to be positioned so that they were clear of other electrical equipment, including lighting columns”.
The facilities are being installed and maintained by a private company on Lancashire County Council’s behalf.