What on earth are gantries and why do EV drivers want them?

These charging arms are being used by people who have to park on the street, but their days could be numbered

What are EV charging gantries?

They are what Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan is calling the electrical vehicle “charging arms” that have been popping up in front gardens in the leafier parts of Dublin, used by EV owners who don’t have a driveway to charge up, when they are parked in an on-street parking space.

How do they work?

When in use, the device projects a charging cable across a footpath at a height of about 2.3m from a post installed on the homeowner’s property. When charging is finished the cable retracts back into the post. By oversailing the footpath, the hazard of trailing cables across the path, and the associated risks of trips and falls are eliminated.

I presume Ryan is in favour of them, if they are used for charging electric vehicles?

In fact no. He says the decision to permit, or not, the devices is a matter for Dublin City Council and that he “can understand absolutely frustration of residents in areas where they can’t do charging in the driveway”. However, “if every single house on every street had that sort of gantry out on to the roadway, I think it would take from the character of our streets”.

What does the council say about them?

The council doesn’t like them either. It says this sort of device would require planning permission “as it is a permanent structure to the front of a house”. Consent from the council’s environment and transportation department would also be required “for extending on to the public footpath”. But due to the “high risk to public liability”, the council “will not give consent for structures like these to reach across the public footpath”.


You say these gantries are cropping up in the leafier parts of Dublin. Why is that?

Well, that is also in part an issue related to planning permission. The city’s Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian homes were built before anyone had cars, and so many don’t have driveways. In the 20th century some owners of these period properties may have removed historic railings from the front of their home to create a driveway in the front garden, but that is not the sort of thing the council would give planning permission for today.

What’s going happen to people who have erected the charging gantries?

The council could serve them with planning enforcement notices, requiring the removal of the charging arms, but it hasn’t done that in any cases, yet. Largely planning enforcement is a reactive system: that is, the council acts on complaints it receives in relation to unauthorised structures, so it may not take action if it doesn’t receive a complaint. However, if it feels these structures are causing a danger or obstruction, it may decide to take action even if no one complains about them.

What are these people to do if they can’t charge outside their homes?

Ryan says he wants everyone to be able to use electric vehicles. “We will start by looking for the local authorities to provide on-street charging and we are going to fund and support that,” he says. He also intends to fund EV “mobility hubs”. “We want to build about 200, particularly in those sort of areas, inner city type areas, where either the people are in apartments or in terraced housing where they can’t charge on the street.”

The city council says it is “delivering high-speed EV charging hubs across the city”. So far it has one in place, in Finglas. Until more are in place, drivers must rely on public charging points, mostly in petrol stations, where costs can by five times the domestic electricity rate.