Free charging on Ecotricity’s Electric Highway network of 300 car charging points is being phased out with a fee of £5 being introduced for a rapid charge of up to 20 minutes.

However, the network will remain free for Ecotricity domestic energy customers.

The change will be manually implemented at all charging points, with work starting on 11 July and expected to be completed by Friday 5 August.

Too use the new system the almost 40,000 members of the Electric Highway will need to download a new mobile phone app to make payments. This will replace the current card system.

The app will include a ‘live feed’ of the entire network, so users can see the location and availability of their nearest pumps.

Use of Ecotricity’s chargers has been free since it began introducing them five years ago, but the company said usage trebled in 2015 and it was now necessary to start charging for the service in order to maintain and grow the network.