Electric Vehicle Charging Point?

I can’t remember a time since it was installed, under the auspices of the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership administering a £2.4million Heritage Lottery grant secured by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty quango, that the Electric Vehicle Charging Point at Allen Mill has been operational. Maybe it has, but it was for a vanishingly small period. The growing list of ‘environmental’ or ‘green energy’ improvements that have gone wrong at the Allen Mill Regeneration site is rather gobsmacking:

  • The passive solar panels on the roof , which were to feed into the central heating, never seemed to contribute one iota to the heat in the so-called ‘Joiners Building’; it’s anyone’s guess whether they do anything nowadays
  • The central heating itself, installed as a burner utilising renewable energy in the form of rough logs, worked if it was fed with enough wood, but it was soon replaced by an oil burner for convenience
  • The gray water system (seemingly a building fad of the early ‘noughties’) never functioned at all and it was abandoned in the implementation of running water to the units

And yet this regeneration was, in large part, financed by public money blithely spent on so-called renewable energy facilities for which there is apparently no accountability. Who checks whether the ‘green energy’ component of grants packages is actually compliant, after installation? Nobody, it seems.

Fortunately, the three-phase electrical supply that now runs the brewery’s mash heaters (an entirely separate business to the other part of the site), and perhaps some of the kitchen equipment in the middle of the renovated building (and which consumes dramatically less energy, at least according to the consumption tariff for three phase devices, nearing only half of single phase power requirements), was finally installed on the site some eight years ago, to the great relief of those businesses.

I called up BP-Chargemaster to see if there were any plans to provide an active charging point for electric vehicles in Allen Mill again; the courteous receptionist told me that the equipment is meant to go back to the manufacturer for ‘refreshing.’ If there are any plans, they couldn’t tell me when it might be functional. The Allendale and Allen Valleys Pocket Directory has been altered accordingly!

What is the point, one might ask, of installing green energy devices if they’re immediately abandoned thereafter? And why don’t the grants administrators, who approved the financing for these packages, at least inspect whether any such installation is working effectively, at say a five year point on down the road? If these things really don’t work, then shouldn’t the next capital investment anywhere else be scrutinised? Or if they do, then shouldn’t somebody be called to account for not using them?


  1. The Allen Mill charging point remains marked on Google maps and I was thinking of renting an electric vehicle soon. We usually rent a vehicle when we come here and I thought it would be good to try an electric vehicle because of the charging point nearby.
    So thanks for letting us know of its state. I will contact the BP charging company to register my interest.
    With the rising CO2 levels we should do everything possible to move away from oil as soon as possible.

  2. The other nearby fast charger, at the Wentworth centre in Hexham, previously free, has just been rebranded and is now accessed by an Electric Blue app at a cost of just under 30p per kWh.
    There is a discussion to be had about whether this is the right time to start charging for the network and what are appropriate tariffs – but whatever the cost there does need to be a functioning network!

  3. Larry,
    Some excellent points, far to many of these grants are in reality being misused, there is no reason what so ever why the charging points should not be operational, i would also question why grants for charging points were ever granted for installation in an area that is not open at all times, the issue with solar panels is a little different as they are only effective in certain situations, I did some research for our house which as you know is not that far away from Allen Mill and we could not make this effective for ourselves so you do wonder what advice was given at the time.

  4. Totally agree about grants and accountability.

    Strangely enough, there was a question yesterday about the charging point, so I went next door to the other office and asked David Coverdale (NPAONB) about it. Apparently NCC removed the old problematic point and are going to replace it. However, there was no timescale given … Can’t help thinking a charging point in the village centre would be a better bet and certainly more obvious.

    1. Fully agree, charging points should be in the obvious areas where they will gain maximum use, the village square would be the obvious location

  5. Good informative article, Larry. There is a lot more urgency about eco-issues now, and technology is improving all the time , so hopefully these failings will be looked at. Not sure under whose aegis they fall, though…. Town Council… Parish council… NCC…or is there a new body set up to look into eco-issues locally? Does anyone know??

  6. It’s no wonder some people are cynical about environmental activism and ‘green energy’. This gets the whole arena a bad name. I hope things are done better in future.

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