ELECTRIC car users will have to pay to use council-owned charging points in East Lothian as tariffs are introduced later this year.

Plans to introduce fees across the county’s public charging points, which are currently free to use, were approved on Tuesday by East Lothian Council’s cabinet, with rates of 16p or 30p per kWh proposed.

There are also plans to charge motorists who stay too long at premium charging points an additional £1 a minute to deter people from hogging spaces.

The new tariffs will see motorists pay 16p per kWh to charge at destination chargepoints which can take several hours to fully recharge a battery, and 30p at premium rapid journey points where the time needed is much shorter.

The lower 16p tariff is intended to make using the public chargers no more expensive than if people had access to a private charger at home and were paying for electricity from their domestic supply.

The local authority said that in 2017/18 it was charged £9,850 for electricity used by seven operational chargepoints in the county.

Roads officials predict that with a network of 43 chargepoints now available, the annual cost could be more than £60,000.

The new tariffs could bring in excess funds of between £7,000 and £32,000 depending on public demand, they predict.

The rapid chargepoints, known as Journey points, where the premium rate is applied, will have a 45-minute only waiting period with no return for 90 minutes.

Drivers will be charged £1 a minute for overstaying with a 10-minute grace period introduced, although the maximum penalty is likely to be restricted to the current parking notice penalties charge of £30.

Destination points will allow up to four hours’ stay during daytime with unrestricted overnight use and will be policed by parking attendants.

Cabinet unanimously backed the plans and were told by officers that it could be in place in a matter of months.

They said: “Taking into consideration the review, the preparation and technical work necessary to recover tariffs it is anticipated a charging regime could be introduced in winter 2019.”