Quite an eye-opener at last month’s APEA meeting (see News Extra, page 10). Not normally my type of gig, since it’s all very detailed legal and technical stuff relating to the Petroleum & Explosives Acts and associated environment legislation.

It was all about the fourth edition of the Blue Book - the latest updates on the guidance for the design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of filling stations. All very straightforward until the bit about electric chargers. Then came the comments such as "the worst place on earth you can put an EV charger is on a filling station"; "it really is a nightmare"; "the incorrect installation of an EV charger on a filling station may lead to dangerous, life-threatening situations...". Ouch! And what about the government’s Automated and Electric Vehicle Bill, intended to force forecourts to install electric chargers?

While feeling an elbow in my side implying "you can’t print this", at the same time everyone in the industry needs to know about and understand the risks involved. Then they can take the appropriate measures to ensure safety on their forecourts and the long-established confidence in the highly-regulated fuel retailing industry will prevail. After all, petrol isn’t exactly an innocuous substance ready as it is to explode at minus 40C, but through intesnse guidance and regulation, and the sort of work done by organisations such as the APEA, there have fortunately been few issues over the years.

And if the electric vehicle parc is to grow to the extent that many lobby groups are screaming for, then the traditional forecourt doesn’t want to lose out in servicing those transport needs, by being deemed an unsafe location for electric charging facilities.

By demonstrating that the appropriate measures have been put in place, the fuel retailing industry can ensure it is fully prepared for any direction future road transport takes - and not lose out to supermarket car parks once again!

Of course, no one really knows what is going to happen to transport in the future, but in Germany there appears to be a strong move towards hydrogen-electric vehicles (see page 23). Sounds like another visit to the APEA!