All content in this case study was created prior to the acquisition of EB Charging by Blink Charging.
Leeds City Council is committed to reducing emissions to protect the health of everyone in the city and surrounding areas. Improving the city’s air quality is expected to help save lives, boost productivity, cut carbon emissions, and help level up the most disadvantaged communities. The Council’s plan included actions to tackle air pollution from transport, home, industry, and agriculture. They will work with the health and care sector and guide businesses allowing them to understand industrial and agricultural sources of emissions so that they can be reduced through engagement, regulation, and enforcement.
The lead Project Manager for Stourton Park & Ride is Jeremy Lunn. Jeremy previously worked within the housing sector for LCC and moved across onto this project as the Operations Manager of Highway and Transportation. LCC has a few Park & Rides around the city but nothing to the south, so this project was seen as the ideal opportunity to create a new Park & Ride just off the motorway and promote greener means of travelling into the city from the south.
What LCC Did
The Stourton Park & Ride project team worked with WSP Design Consultancy taking guidance to build the initial business case for applying for grants. A large amount of work was also carried out internally to ensure that the restrictions and requirements of the funding were adhered to and met, leading to success and LCC being awarded £15 million for not just this project but for a collection across the entire city.
LCC worked closely with the Combined Authority (CA) as the awarded grants were part of the Department for Transport and the ERDF European Union funding. LCC allocated the European funding solely towards the green aspects of the project. The site was designed to house solar panels across the roof of the building, similar to Newmarket Approach, a Leeds City Council facility housing Waste RV’s being transitioned to EVs. This initiative would allow Stourton Park & Ride to generate its power stored in Tesla batteries and used across the site to be self-sufficient.
Following the design and the grant approval, BAM Nuttall, based on recommendations from Leeds City Council, contracted Blink Charging as the EV Charging partner to supply, install, operate, and maintain the chargers for the site. LCC chose Blink for this as they had worked on previous projects with them and were more than happy with their results, expertise, and professionalism.
Blink consulted with the Stourton Park & Ride Project team about the potential and future requirements of the site, presenting back a solution that we would initially install four rapid (50kW – Delta UFC 200kW Ultra Chargers) and 13 fast (7kW – Alfen Eve Double Pro Line) charge points at Stourton. These units were in line with ERDF funding restrictions and compatible with an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) system to monitor out-of-hours usage of the site, which would be operated via Blinks CPMS (Cash Processing Management System) and maintained for a minimum of 10 years.
Blink’s back-office system needed to be suitable to be extended to other Park and Ride sites. Blink was designated electrical subcontractor within this project, undertaking all necessary design and installation of the electrical services (including the provision of the installation requirements, inspection, testing, commissioning, and certification of all works). The finances saw the introduction of a profit share arrangement, whereby revenue was split between BAM and Blink’s operation and maintenance costs.
Just as the project was beginning, there were a few setbacks before LCC could break ground, some residents opposed the project. It was felt that the plot of land should be left as is, and concerns were raised about potential disruptions: including noise pollution from the building work to traffic disruption, particular reference being made to overflowing from the car park should it hit compacity spilling out onto the residential streets.
To alleviate these concerns, LCC set up a Park & Ride reference group where local representatives, Local elected councillors and residents could attend monthly meetings and air their concerns. The Senior officers on the Project team and site also attended and detailed the work that was being carried out at various stages to address and resolve any further concerns of the residents and a giveback scheme for the environment, from road maintenance/upgrade and offsetting the increase in traffic with wildlife (plants and trees) being planted.
Finally, the Park & Ride location was a challenge of its own. The site connected the M1 corridor to the city from the south but was remote, there was no rail link, and there were issues getting utilities connected as it was in the middle of a field. This resulted in an increased cost associated with the project. Alongside that, the site was erected off the main road and required collaborating with Highways England to deal with traffic management, reconfiguration, congestion, etc. It was a challenge at first, but nothing insurmountable as the site was constructed during COVID-19, so the reduced car traffic assisted LCC in keeping to their timeframe, but COVID-19 did present problems when sourcing materials.
Jeremy did state that if he was to do the project again
“I would bring Blink Charging in much earlier in the process. LCC designed what we saw as the best solution and way of futureproofing the project, but Blink are the experts, and I feel they could’ve helped us with this more.”
He also believes that as Stourton Park & Ride was part of multiple projects being undertaken at one time, it could have been better to isolate the project and focus on it to alleviate any pinch points.
Although the above problems did arise, they did not negatively impact the timeframe for the project, and Stourton Park & Ride was opened within the 18-month timeline.
Stourton Park & Ride is not the first of its kind for Leeds City Council, the thought behind the construction of this site shows great promise for what the council would like to do in other areas. The facility is built with the possibility of expansion to increase the number of charge points to suit the growing EV (Electric Vehicle) adoption, but also the intention that it has with its solar canopies to not only sell back the unused energy to the NPG (National Power Grid) but to use the energy in the future to provide power to local communities for schools, Communities centres and other facilities. Stourton Park & Ride is the next step for giving back to the residents of Leeds City Council and is just one of the schemes that Leeds City Council has in the pipework to reflect the city’s green strategy.
Leeds City Council strives to lead the green initiative and lead by example to other Local Authorities. They pledge that further investment will be made to support and provide sustainable transport to engage citizens and businesses, encouraging change to shape the transport system for the city and the nation.
“Blink Charging has worked with us on other projects across the city. You’re a good company, a reliable company, and a safe pair of hands. We knew they were the ones we wanted to work with on this project without any hesitation.”
Operations Manager of Highway & Transportation,
Leeds City Council
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