East Lothian street cabinet converted into EV charger in UK first

Residents in an East Lothian town can charge their electronic vehicles for free after an old street cabinet was converted into a charging point for the first time in UK history, the BT Group has announced.

The green metal cabinet in Haddington, near Edinburgh, was selected as the first pilot in a UK-wide trial which could eventually see 4,800 BT-owned street cabinets in Scotland converted into charging points.

The hope is that converting the cabinets, which are usually used to store telephone and broadband cables, will address the shortage of public charging points, which, the BT Group says, is currently deterring many people from switching to an electronic vehicle (EV).

Tom Guy, from the BT Group, said: “Our research shows that 78% of petrol and diesel drivers see not being able to conveniently charge an EV as a key barrier to purchasing one. We want this to change.

“It’s critical that we all start to play our part in looking at existing infrastructure to drive innovation at speed to support government-set sustainability targets.

“We’re proud to be partnering with local councils across the UK as part of this trial, which presents a unique opportunity to tap into existing assets to drive the important transition to electrification in the UK.”

The BT Group will be analysing user experience during the trial to establish the feasibility of expanding the project more widely.

Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who will switch on the first charger today, described the scheme as “exciting”.

She said: “This is an exciting and innovative development in the provision of electric vehicle charging so I’m really pleased that the first trial in the UK is taking place in East Lothian.

“This government is committed to supporting people to make the switch from petrol and diesel vehicles, and our vision for Scotland’s future public EV charging network highlights the need for private sector finance and delivery to build on our significant investment in the network to date.

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Transport
Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop has welcomed the scheme (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“I’m really looking forward to seeing more partnerships working like this as we continue to help people in Scotland to make greener transport choices.”

The charging point, which is operated using an app, will be free to use for residents of Haddington until May 31 2024.

Edmund King, AA president, welcomed the scheme, which his organisation has called for.

He said: “We are delighted that this initiative is being piloted across Scotland.

“We also need to see more charging at supermarkets, local authority premises and even schools to allow residents without off-street parking to charge at night.

“This could also generate income for local authorities.

“The EV transition has started and a host of innovative charging initiatives are needed to keep it on track.”