• Scotland’s Plugged-In Communities Fund: What Next?

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    • Scotland’s Plugged-In Communities Fund: What Next?
    • by David Kelly
      Director for Scotland

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    Decarbonising community transport will be a key challenge for our sector in the years ahead, as well as a major opportunity to help us deliver a more sustainable transport system across Scotland. Financial support will be critical to help CTA members to transition from petrol and diesel to electric or even hydrogen vehicles.

    CTA was therefore pleased by the launch of the Plugged-In Communities Grant Fund earlier this year to support community transport operators to procure zero-emissions vehicles. Many of our members applied during the 2021/22 pilot round – funded by Transport Scotland and administered by the Energy Saving Trust – and a number were successful.

    After listening to your experiences of applying, whether successful or unsuccessful, we have written to Transport Scotland and the Energy Saving Trust to share constructive feedback which can help inform decisions about whether and how funding is designed and delivered in the future.

    Our letter – which you can download and read in full here – makes the following key points:

    • Community transport operators will need further financial support to meet the significant up-front capital costs of Electric Vehicles (EVs). High level of interest and large number of applications makes a strong case for further rounds of funding in 2022/23 and beyond
    • There were positive innovations in the application process. Members valued being able to submit multiple preferences and speak to a ‘real person’ at online advice sessions
    • More flexible application criteria could have better tailored the Fund to the distinct characteristics of our sector and the people and communities we serve
    • There is currently a limited supply of Electric Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (eWAVs) which meet the needs of our sector in terms of accessibility and mileage. It is likely that EV manufacturers will take time to develop and produce models which meet the distinct needs of a niche market
    • A lack of charging points or enabling grid infrastructure is discouraging many operators from transitioning confidently to EVs
    • Smaller operators often face issues with lack of space or landlord permission for storage of EVs or installation of charging points
    • Requirements to spend all of the funding within the same financial year was challenging given delays with manufacturers and supply chains

    We are now engaging with the Energy Saving Trust and Transport Scotland to take this forward. We have met with them recently to discuss your feedback and our ideas. We look forward to working with our partners and members to deliver a just transition to net zero for community transport and for Scotland.

    What did you think of the Plugged-In Communities Grant Fund? What kind of support will you need in the future to decarbonise your operations? Let me know via david.kelly@ctauk.org.

    Have you transitioned your fleet to Electric Vehicles? Are you innovating with e-bikes or thinking about hydrogen? Share your sustainability case study via scotland@ctauk.org.

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