For most EV owners, home charging is highly convenient. Owners can simply plug in when they get home, set the start charging time for when off-peak power rates apply and have a fully charged battery by morning. It is an easy routine that is environmentally beneficial and cost-efficient. Of course this ideal set-up is for EV owners having their own power outlet or charging point and private parking space on their own property.
Unfortunately, many people have to rely with on-street parking close to their property. This can make charging more complicated because they are forced to run their charging cable across the pavement that separates their property boundary from the parking spot. This situation can feel awkward because EV owners will know they are interfering with normal foot traffic. Whilst we are unable to licence or officially authorise the placement of cables in the highway for the purpose of charging a vehicle, Northamptonshire Highways would not take any action if the cable was laid in such a way so that it does not present a hazard to users of the public highway. Responsibility for placing a cable (or indeed similarly a garden house or vacuum cleaner flex etc.) remains with the person doing so and therefore, we would suggest that anyone doing so ensures they have appropriate public liability insurance, as by laying an electric cable across the pavement, they run the risk of:
- Causing someone to trip and fall.
- If the cable is damaged and it is raining, there could also be electrocution.
- There is also the risk that unsavoury characters could end up vandalising or stealing the cable.
All these potential problems are real as EV owners cannot be expected to stand guard over their cable and car during the charging process. Even with a fast charger that is recommended for domestic use, it can still take several hours to get a decent charge.
Therefore, again we must stress that it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to ensure the safety of pedestrians, wheel-chair or mobility scooter users passing if they trail a cable across the footway and that if anyone was injured as a result, the person trailing the cable would be liable for any insurance claim.
The following images are examples of on-street parking and vehicle battery charging that other local authorities have suggested to help with safety. The cable covering in both examples appears to be industrial standard, covering the entire width of the public footway and with the yellow strip over the top designed to help at night time and/or for anyone that may be visually impaired.
At this present time Northamptonshire Highways would suggest using measures similar to this to help reduce trip hazards and maintain safety. If this is found not to be the case and reports are received that members of the public are being put at risk, we would follow up with action which initially would be in the form of an advisory warning letter to the resident of the property. Should the matter continue to be a cause for concern, then relevant enforcement action would have to be made. The Highway Act does give local highway authority the right to remove cables in locations that are not suitable or are considered to be a public safety hazard but naturally we would hope that formal action is not necessary if people are reasonable and understand the issues by taking the necessary precautions.
With regard to where you can find your nearest public EV charging point across the town (and county), West Northamptonshire have further information available and a web link where residents can inform the Council of where they would like future charging points to be located: