| Case Study | Local Authorities

Mer brings combined EV charging offering to support Durham County Council

Durham residents and visitors can charge on a reliable, ever-growing public network, whilst Mer’s depot charging has enabled the Council to switch its own fleet.

Durham CC

Client: Durham County Council

Geographical Area: Northeast of England


The Background

Durham is a vibrant county in the Northeast of England, attracting 17.91 million visitors in 2022. It featured in The Telegraph’s best city breaks in the UK for 2023, and is home to beautiful scenic landscapes, a vibrant arts and music scene, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral and Castle. 


A sustainably conscious Council

Durham County Council support over 530,100 people in County Durham. The Council set a target of reaching net zero and achieving 80% real carbon reduction to its emissions by 2023.  

In its Climate Change Strategy and Emergency Response Plan 2022-24, the Council notes that in 2019, transport in County Durham accounted for one third (34%) of the county’s total carbon footprint (excluding motorway traffic and trains on the East Coast Mainline).  

The plan also places an emphasis on the importance of low carbon vehicles in reducing the County’s carbon footprint from transport. 


Public charging in Durham

In 2019, less than 50% of the Council’s EV charging infrastructure was working or usable. The Council also faced difficulties with encouraging EV uptake, due to: 

  • A lack of charging infrastructure in rural areas as charging providers saw little appetite for commercial return, 
  • Legislation preventing on-street charging in Durham’s towns, 
  • 40% of residents living in terraced houses with no access to off-street parking, meaning they were reliant on a public charging network. 

The solution

Mer began working with Durham County Council with funding from Innovate UK for the Scaling on Street Charging Infrastructure (SOSCI) project, The two-year partnership saw Mer bring EV charge points to 67 locations across the County, so that underserved communities could access reliable EV charging.   

Through consultation with residents, the charge points were strategically placed where residential demand was at its highest.  

Mer’s infrastructure has helped local EV communities thrive

In Shotley Bridge, Rowlands Gill and Blackhall Mill, Derwent Valley Car Club, a local not-for-profit EV car sharing club, has been able to expand its reach.  

Maggie Bosanquet, Low Carbon Economy Team Leader at Durham County Council, said, ‘From the moment we appointed Mer they rose to the challenge and supported us every step of the way. We had a named contact there to keep us informed on progress and respond quickly to any issues. We found that Mer went the extra mile every time. Thanks to them we overachieved on the project, installing 270 sockets instead of the 200 required, and we were so successful that we were asked by Innovate UK to write a best practice guide for other local authorities. It’s confirmation of our confidence in Mer that we have appointed them to deliver our subsequent charge point installation programmes.’ 

Looking forward – Expanding Durham’s public EV charging network

Since the first phase of our work with Durham County Council came to an end in January 2022, Mer is continuing its work with the Council to expand the network and provide coverage across the whole of County Durham.  

Currently, 50 dual fast charge point sites are currently being installed across the County. This project is being supported by ORCS grant funding. We have installed three new rapid charger sites in the last three months, and plan for one more in November 2023. 

Supporting the Council with transitioning their fleet

The Council has a fleet of over 1000 vehicles, which carry out a range of daily activities. In its Climate Change Strategy and Emergency Response Plan 2022-24, the Council states these vehicles are responsible for 39% of its emissions linked to core activities.  

To support the reduction in emissions linked to its fleet vehicles, the Council needed to install charge points across its estate as it transitions its fleet vehicles to electric. 


The solution

In addition to its work for Durham’s public charging network, Mer is also supporting the Council with charging infrastructure for its fleet vehicles.  

Our Fleet & Workplace consultancy has brought 22kW dual charging provision at a Council site in Beechburn.  

In the near future, Mer will install 22kW charging at the Council’s Hackworth Depot, Chilton Depot and Meadowfield Depot. 

Andrew Shiel, Senior Electric Vehicle Project Officer at Durham County Council, said ‘Mer continue to work closely with the council and provide support and guidance at each step of the process. They continue to work closely with our internal CDM team and together we are working to install multiple EVCP’s across the county to facilitate DCC switch to electric fleet.’ 

Recent News