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The Electric Highway is coming

At Eurobodalla Council’s April 11th meeting Councillor Jack Tait put forward a Notice of Motion regarding Electric Cars and the support for an Electric Highway as he believed that there has long been a disinterest and inaction in genuinely pursuing such a project. He moved THAT Council:

1.Write to the New South Wales, Victorian and ACT Governments seeking their support

for an electric highway along the NSW Coast between Sydney and Melbourne and linking Canberra and Batemans Bay.

2.Write to and encourage Bega Valley Shire, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional, Wollongong

and Shoalhaven City Councils, Regional Development Australia Far South Coast and

South East Australian Transport Strategy Inc., to advocate for the establishment of an

electric highway along the NSW Coast between Sydney and Melbourne and linking

Canberra and Batemans Bay.

3.Continue to assist local businesses with the provision of advice on how to establish

electric car charging facilities.

4.Utilise a web site to promote the location of electric car charging stations within the

Eurobodalla and at locations linking the Eurobodalla to Sydney, Melbourne and the


5.Investigate and report back to Council on the potential establishment of electric vehicle

or similar renewable energy vehicle charging stations at its visitor information centres

and council owned property in Moruya.

The actions he put forward are positive and The Beagle will be following them very closely to monitor what has been achieved as there are concerns that once again they will suffer inaction and fall by the wayside. There is a history in an initiative to develop an Electric Highway that started back with the Regional Development Australia , Far South Coast group.

Briefly, the concept was to help improve our local economy by increasing tourism visits to the South Coast region by tapping into the electric vehicle ( EV) market . The aim was to provide 15 amp EV recharge plugs at motels, caravan parks etc so that EV owners will travel longer distances from Sydney knowing they can stay for an overnight EV recharge. There are hundreds of EV’s in Sydney, and the number is increasing, but they have ‘range anxiety’, a fear of travelling too far without the ability to recharge. In 2014 thirty five motels & caravan parks were visited between Wollongong and Bega to gauge support for the idea. It is low cost to have an electrician install a dedicated 15 amp power outlet in a carpark, no red tape, no D/A required. There was overwhelming support and it was obvious the accommodation providers were keen to improve visitor numbers. What was needed was for local Councils and/or Tourism managers to research and develop this concept with stakeholders then move forward to a marketing campaign. Despite reporting this to a supportive RDA, the matter was to then have been referred to the three Councils in our region by RDA. It was here that it came to a halt and there seems to have been no obvious advance with the concept. The Australian Electric Vehicle Assn ( AEVA ) is also supportive as well as Member for Bega Andrew Constance, so much so that his office proactively set up a meeting to discuss the concept with South Coast NSW Dept of Industry & Regional Development officers in April 2016. Documentation of the project to date regarding the Electric Highway was recently passed to two Eurobodalla Councillors, one being Cl Pollock. Rob Pollock was the Chair of the RDA at the time the project was being discussed. This project was well minuted at various RDA meetings over a year of discussions however it never progressed. The WA State Govt has opened an Electric Highway (using that name) from Perth to Bunbury. It is an expensive ‘quick charge’ system. The original idea however for the South Coast Electric Highway still stands that incorporates accommodation and public sites with overnight EV recharge outlets. Eurobodalla can still be the first region to provide such an Electric Highway but it appears the concept has stalled for three years at the hands of bureaucrats however with the motion put forward by Councillor Tait there might be hope to see the project revitalised as the motion required actions to be carried out. The actions were necessary to overcome the inaction we have seen to date. Many in the community believe that good ideas suffer a death by intentional inaction in large organisations. It is often thought that (some) employees, board members or councillors in secure positions are basically lazy, so it is easier for them to say NO to a new idea/proposal/ request than to say YES. If they say Yes, then they have to do some work, e.g write a report, do some research, communicate with stakeholders, open a new file, develop a plan etc. if you say NO, or just ignore it or deliberately sink it, the idea inevitably dies and they won’t have to do much at all. In Councillor Tait’s motion that was unanimously adopted by Councillors there is an expectation of action. He put the motion forward because he wanted to see some and, as someone who wants to try to improve our economy, progress the Electric Highway in our area before it appears in other regions with more proactive attitudes to improving their economy. The South Coast Travel Guide has a dedicated webpage that identifies all the known recharging ports along the South Coast Electric Highway to date and it is hoped that the numbers will continue to grow. The website also offers advice to motels and businesses of how to install a recharge point.

Having read through over a year of RDA meeting minutes The Beagle tracked down Gary Smith, the originator and primary push behind the South Coast Electric Highway idea. "I am fed up with the inaction, I gave the information, in writing, to Councillors Tait and Nathan at an ERA meeting last year, including a draft motion to council. It now seems that Councillor Tait has broadened the direction and maybe complicated it. "Cl Pollock has long known of the Electric Hwy from my reports to Regional Development Australia , Far South Coast group 3 years ago but appears to have done nothing proactive about it at Council level since then. This is most disappointing as his proactive input could have got it up at council years ago with just a little effort. "It is important to distinguish between overnight recharge outlets for free at motels along the highway. These are low cost installations paid for by the motel owner/caravan park owner. The idea being to get people with EV’s staying in our region to boost the economy, not drive through. "Other quick charge outlets are expensive and may actually deter businesses/councils from installing them. There is no doubt that they will probably be standard in local service stations in a decade as Tesla is already installing some on the Hume Hwy." It is to be noted that Gary Smith developed the Electric Highway concept and nursed it thru the Regional Development Australia , Far South Coast group while visiting 35 motels/caravan parks to gauge support with the stakeholders and meeting with Andrew Constance to push it along with the Dept of Industry. Had his term at RDA not ended, it would probably be up and running from Wollongong to Bega by now.

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