National charging strategy

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4 Areas for charging infrastructure

Illustration photo. EV chargers in a city.

Image: Ministry of Transport

The deployment of charging infrastructure depends on access to sufficiently large and suitable sites in locations that are accessible to users. It is also important that charging stations are located where the need is greatest and where the deployment does not come into conflict with other important needs or community interests. These considerations must also be taken into account when organising the infrastructure for other types of zero-emission vehicles.

4.1 Area management in plans according to the Planning and Building Act

Areas for charging infrastructure are governed by the Planning and Building Act, which provides statutory authority to restrict the right of disposal both on public and private land. All areas in Norway are in practice governed by the land-use section in municipal plans. Some areas are also zoned, either in area zoning or detailed zoning plans. To the extent areas in the land-use section in municipal plans are available for “Agricultural, nature and recreational purposes and reindeer husbandry” (LNFR) or “Use and protection of sea and watercourses”, deployment of charging stations will conflict with the plan. In Norway, LNFR areas represent 87 percent of plan areas, whilst land allocated for dwellings and installations represents just 2 percent of the area. Less than 0.2 percent is planned to be used for transport purposes. Around 10 percent of the area falls within the category “Use and protection of sea and watercourses”.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has published memorandum H-4/21 which accounts for the applicable regulations according to the Planning and Building Act for the deployment of charging stations for electrically powered vehicles (electric cars) and vessels with battery electric propulsion.

Deployment of charging stations for vehicles and vessels must be evaluated according to land use and general regulations in the land use plan and regulations associated with land use and zones requiring special consideration, ref. Planning and Building Act. Section 1-6 par. 2 and Sections 11-6 par. 2 and 12-4 per. 2. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, in memorandum H-4/21 Deployment of charging points and charging stations for electrically powered vehicles (electric cars) and vessels with battery electric propulsion – relation to the Planning and Building Act etc., has provided guidelines that unless expressly stipulated in the land use plan, charging infrastructure can lawfully be deployed in areas allocated for parking spaces, harbours, quayside installations and quays. There are now many public and private car parks that can offer charging facilities to the general public. Even if a plan has not expressly allocated an area for parking, the objective of the plan would in any case indicate that there is the opportunity to set up parking places and thereby also an opportunity to deploy charging infrastructure. This applies, for example, where zoning has been carried out for building purposes without making a more detailed specification of area usage. The municipality can however allocate sites for charging infrastructure and thereby reserve the site for this purpose. In Norway, over several years many of these charging stations have been deployed and some of them can service dozens of vehicles at the same time. These are largely found along existing national road networks.

A lack of sites, long case handling times and a lack of coordination between actors, are – according to the Knowledge Base – some of the most significant barriers to the development of rapid charging. Rapid charging stations for heavy vehicles require larger areas and must be designed differently from rapid charging stations for light vehicles, to provide enough space for safe manoeuvring. It is therefore important that municipalities also give priority to allocating sufficiently large areas to charging infrastructure. Many municipalities have drawn up plans for the deployment of charging infrastructure within their boundaries. Even if municipalities allocate a site, it does not necessarily mean that deployment takes place right away. Some municipalities offer charging infrastructure at municipal parking areas, and they take responsibility for deployment and operation. These are however often smaller installations with a limited capacity for rapid charging. It is therefore essential that commercial operators invest in these types of charging stations. Subsequently, there is a need for access to locations, both on public and private land. Sites in central city areas are sought after, and these can be affected by conflicting interests. In Oslo, the scarcity of sites is the biggest challenge regarding the deployment of rapid charging. In a report from Hafslund Rådgivning, commissioned by the Climate Agency in Oslo, it is estimated that the average area required for a rapid charging station for cars in Oslo is 179 m2. In addition, the stations have an average approach area of 435 m2.

This represents a significant land area that must be allocated for rapid charger installations in the coming years. Therefore, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development sees a need to strengthen guidance and steering signals for municipalities when it comes to allocating sufficient land area for charging infrastructure in municipal land-use plans. Deployment of infrastructure should also take place in a coordinated manner so that there is a good correlation in the charging infrastructure, particularly at a regional level. There is however also a need to ensure that sufficient land area is allocated, especially in the larger city municipalities, particularly for charging larger vehicles.

Municipalities may themselves use the Planning and Building Act actively to organise the deployment of necessary infrastructure for charging electric vehicles by allocating sufficient land area for this type of infrastructure in the municipal land use plans. Municipalities can also accept private proposals for detailed plans, where a developer proposes to allocate sites for this type of infrastructure. If the municipality receives a private plan proposal without a site allocated for infrastructure, it can allocate sufficient land area in connection with the final processing of the plan. This should, however, be done in dialogue with the developer, so that charging station requirements do not hamper implementation of the plan. There are also good mechanisms in legislation for coordination between national, regional and municipal interests through planning processes. There is therefore a good basis for effective and coordinated cooperation between relevant public agencies, such as for example the Public Roads Administration, municipalities, NVE and Enova. National overall planning policy guidelines are an important basis for coordinated regional and local planning. To ensure effective and good coordinated planning of charging infrastructure, there are two instruments in particular that are relevant, and that is to give governmental steering signals in the form of national expectations of regional and municipal planning according to the Planning and Building Act Section 6-1 and governmental planning guidelines according to the Planning and Building Act Section 6-2.

The national expectations shall be followed up in the county authorities’ and municipalities’ work on strategies and plans and applied as a basis in national authorities’ contribution to the planning. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is working with the aim of the government adopting national expectations in the spring of 2023 for the period 2023-2027. Applicable national expectations were established by Royal Decree on 14 May 2019.

National planning guidelines are intended to be used to transfer the national expectations for planning into concrete actions. Planning guidelines can relate to the country as a whole or a specific geographic area. The objective of the guidelines is that municipalities, county authorities and the state, in the planning shall contribute to allocating sufficient land areas for further charging stations where there is a need for these. National planning guidelines shall also be applied as a basis in individual decisions where there is room for judgement in the decision. National planning guidelines can be given a binding effect or be more of a guide for exercising judgement. At present, five national planning guidelines apply for:

  • Differentiated administration of littoral zones
  • Children and planning and Protected watercourses (both are given according to the previous Planning and Building Act
  • Climate and energy planning, and climate adaptation,
  • Coordinated housing, area and transport planning.

A new guideline regarding the allocation of sufficient land area for the deployment of charging stations will potentially be incorporated in one of the two latter existing guidelines.

It is not considered necessary to amend area planning legislation to safeguard the need for charging infrastructure. The government believes it will be important to influence relevant public agencies to work to increase the number of charging stations by providing steering signals, both in national expectations regarding regional and municipal planning and national planning guidelines.

4.2 Building application processing of charging infrastructure and technical requirements

Deployment of a charging station can fall under the case handling regulations for building application processing. A charging station can in some cases be so insignificant that it is not considered a project according to the building application section of the Planning and Building Act. Smaller electrical installations such as a free-standing distribution cabinet have traditionally not been considered projects according to the building application section. The same applies to charging cabinets or wall cabinets for charging electric vehicles on owners’ properties. This means that a free-standing charging point for an electric vehicle is not considered a project according to the building application section of the law. Their location must however be in accordance with the land-use plan. Larger charging stations will however be a project according to the building application section of the Planning and Building Act. Even if the charging station is a project according to the building application section, the municipality must address whether an application and permit are required or whether the project can be considered exempt from the application procedure. This is because a municipality can exempt charging stations according to the Planning and Building Act Section 20-5 (g), if the project, after a specific appraisal, is no more extensive than projects that are explicitly exempt according to the building application regulations section 4-1. However, it is important to be aware that many smaller projects, that together represent a larger installation, can require a building application. For application processing, statutory case handling deadlines apply of 3 weeks and 12 weeks, dependent on the nature of the project. A case processing time of 12 weeks also applies to applications for dispensation. Municipalities have a clear need to be able to control the deployment of larger charging stations, both out of consideration for neighbours and the surroundings otherwise and therefore it is considered inadvisable to introduce further simplifications.

The Norwegian Building Authority (DiBK) is responsible for technical requirements for buildings. Requirements have been drawn up in the building technical regulations (TEK17) for “buildings designed for charging systems” which came into force on 1 July 2021. The regulations are stated in TEK17 Section 8.5 par. 5. There are no requirements regarding the installation of the charging system itself but there are some in relation to the preparation of intake routes and spaces for electrical infrastructure for charging systems for electric vehicles. If the intake routes go from the parking area and in, or through, a building, the intake routes must be prepared in the building.

The Owner-Tenant Act and Housing Cooperatives Act

In the Owner-Tenant Act in Section 25, the right to set up a charging point for an electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle was added in 2020. A corresponding right was at the same time added to the Housing Cooperatives Act Section 5-11 (a).

The government will:

  • Offer additional guidance to municipalities in the application of the Planning and Building Act to allocate sufficient land areas for the deployment of charging infrastructure.
  • Reference the need for deployment of charging infrastructure in the national strategy for regional and municipal planning 2023–2027.
  • Consider setting out national planning guidelines to assist municipalities in allocating areas for deployment of charging infrastructure.