A beacon of hope for the future: Gridserve's world-first electric car charging station in Essex

Cllr Simon Walsh standing in front of the electric car charging station

Driving silently through the fog, I could hardly contain my excitement, as this was my first time in an electric car. My destination loomed out of the grey impenetrable gloom, like the Wizard of Oz’s Emerald Palace, a beacon of hope for the future.

Pulling off the A131 at Great Notley, I could see various green signs telling me how much a kilowatt hour might cost. Visually arresting 3D zebra crossings defined where pedestrians could safely cross, but from where to what?

The ‘where’ is the world’s first electric vehicle recharging forecourt, laid out just like the standard filling stations we are all familiar with. More unfamiliar, was the fact that the vehicles by the ‘pumps’ appeared to be abandoned, all hooked up with no-where to go.

The ‘what’ is one of the most advanced service stations you would ever find. Designed to provide a relaxing space while your car is replenished with clean, green renewable energy. Downstairs, a coffee bar, mini-supermarket, books, newspapers and  post office are all available.

Wander upstairs, to find a child-friendly play corner, exercise bikes, yoga mats, business conference pods and even electric cars to lease are all there. The central area is laid out for casual meetings, or for catching up with work; it can also be reconfigured to form a conference space, with a large presentation screen to boot.

Welcome to Gridserve’s first electric refuelling station - the brainchild of Toddington Harper, who sits on the Essex Climate Action Commission. I was delighted to be invited to the opening of this innovative vision of the future, or as I hope, the present. For this could revolutionise the way we think about electric cars; removing concerns about where to recharge, and range anxiety. One customer even bought an electric car on the back of this facility being available!

This fits so well into our own carbon reduction ambitions, and ECC is proud to have helped this project into reality.

The hope is for many more, all built on a modular basis, up and down the country. So as I leave this, the first of Toddington’s service stations, I am proud that yet again, Essex County Council is at the forefront of innovation, and leading the way with business partners to help protect the planet for future generations to come.