Council of State: gas stations along the highway may offer some charging stations

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Filling stations along the highway may offer a few charging stations, provided the charging stations remain an ‘additional facility’ of the filling station. Fuel stations are therefore not allowed to offer more charging points than filling points, according to a ruling by the Council of State.

The ruling of the Council of State revolved around a case between Fastned and The Fast Charging Network on the one hand and the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management on the other. In recent years, the minister has authorized several petrol stations along highways to offer charging stations as an additional facility. Fastned and The Fast Charging Network were against this, as these two companies also offer charging stations close to several filling stations. That is why they appealed against the licenses granted by the minister.

One of the appeals concerned the question of when there is an ‘additional provision’. The filling stations have a permit in which the sale of fuels is the basic facility. In addition, the filling stations may offer additional facilities, such as a shop, car wash or candy machine. However, several petrol stations have also applied for a charging station as an ‘additional facility’, for which the ministry has given permission.

However, Fastned and The Fast Charging Network found that it was unclear when charging stations are ‘supplementary’ as a facility and when they are no longer ‘supplementary’. The Council of State largely agrees with this. Ultimately, however, according to the judge, you can say that charging stations are ‘additional’ if they are subordinate to the gas station.

In concrete terms, this means that a filling station may not be granted a permit to install charging stations as an additional facility if the number of charging stations exceeds the number of filling points. In the ruling, the judge mentions the example of the Den Ruygen Hoek-Oost rest area. Shell has a permit to install six charging stations here. The gas station itself has nineteen gas stations. According to the judge, this means that it is ‘clear that the charging function of the energy charging point is subordinate to the main function of the petrol station as a motor fuel sales point’.

However, Shell has also received a permit to install four charging stations at the Peulwijk-Oost service area, while there are ‘only’ six tank columns. Here it ‘clamps’ according to the judge. ‘Especially now that Fastned has also submitted an application for two charging stations for the service area as an additional facility’. This would mean that six charging stations would appear as an ‘additional facility’, while there are only six refueling points. Shell therefore does not receive a permit from the Council of State to install charging stations here.

Fastned and The Fast Charging Network had more grounds for appeal, many of which had already been put forward in a similar case. For example, the two companies claim that it is dangerous and unclear if drivers have to choose between two providers of charging points at a rest area. Motorists would, for example, drive wrong-way in order to still reach the other provider.

The two charging station companies also believe that they are treated unequally, for example because gas stations receive a permit for the charging stations for an indefinite period. That while the charging station companies receive a permit for fifteen years. The Council of State does not agree with these points. Fuel stations are therefore still allowed to offer charging stations from the court, as long as it remains an additional activity.

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