Motorists are increasingly going green.
In recent years, the numbers of electric cars on the roads of the UK have grown sharply, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Its data shows that while just 500 electric vehicles were registered in the first half of 2014, this had rocketed to an average of almost 4,000 a month by 2017, with further growth expected this year.
And that means there’s also been an increase in places you can charge them – with so-called charging bays popping up on streets and in car parks up and down the country.
Rising numbers of charging bays
According to data from Zap Map, there are now 9,259 charging devices for electric vehicles at more than 5,500 locations across the UK.
This is quite the increase on 12 months ago, when just 4,170 locations have charging bays for electric vehicles.
London is the area with the most charging connections, accounting for more than one in five (21%), followed by Scotland (15%) and the south east (13%).
But what happens if you use one of these bays and don’t have an electric vehicle? And if you do have one, do you have to use the charger too?
Policing of parking spaces
If you park in a disabled bay and don’t have a disabled badge on show, then you are liable to be hit with a penalty charge notice.
This is the case whether you do so on a council-owned disabled space or a space owned by a retailer, like a supermarket.
Supermarkets set their own levels for fines for this particular offence, though you are likely to have to cough up around £60-£70.
Parking in a parent and child spot without a toddler in tow doesn’t seem to have the same social stigma, but some supermarkets are strict about it, warning that if you are caught and then refuse to move you can be fined.
Parking in an electric charging bay
So how are things handled with electric charging bays? Can you be fined for parking in them incorrectly?
The answer is a resounding yes when it comes to council-owned spaces.
Parking up in a charging bay with a non-electric car will leave you liable to a penalty charge notice.
The same should be true of supermarket parking spaces too, according to James Walker, founder of dispute resolution service Resolver, who notes that electric vehicle charging bays are essentially owned by whoever is responsible for running them and so should be subject to the usual private parking fine rules.
He adds: “Fines would be applied by the owner of the space – the firm that runs it – and the usual rules would therefore apply.
“There would have to be clear signage explaining the penalties for parking in this area and failure to do this – or unclear or hidden warnings – would mean you’d be able to appeal.”
Essentially, make sure you have a good look around for some sort of official sign outlining the exact rules for parking in those bays – and then follow those rules – if you want to ensure you don’t get whacked with a fine.
Oh, and you HAVE to be charging too
It’s important to note that even if you have an electric car and a valid parking ticket, you could still come a cropper when using a charging bay.
To avoid the chances of a fine, you must be actively charging while parked up, and then head off from the space once the battery is full.
Take this explanation from Hertsmere Council : “Vehicles in the charging bay must be charging at the time of parking and display a valid parking ticket for the entire duration.
“Vehicles parked in a charging bay without using the charging point, even with a valid ticket, will be at risk of being served with a Penalty Charge Notice.”