The Government will make an extra £20million available to Britain’s local authorities to bolster their electric car charging infrastructure.
The cash injection is for kerb-side devices to be installed in towns and cities to ‘allow residents without private parking to reliably charge their vehicles,’ says the Department for Transport’s announcement this morning.
However, a report also released on Tuesday morning warned MPs that charge points need to be rolled out five times quicker than the current pace to get ahead of the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
New cash injection for chargers: The Government has announced an extra £20million to fund the installation of on-street EV charging devices in the next financial year
Some 40 per cent of Britons do not have access to off-street parking, which is seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the adoption of electric vehicles in the next decade.
Ministers have acknowledged the issue, launching an On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme at the end of 2016 as part of a broader plan to pump £1.3billion into the nation’s charging infrastructure over the next four years.
Taxpayer funds are made available through the scheme to authorities who can apply for a portion of the cash based on demand from electric car owners and buyers in their areas.
The latest £20million investment for the financial year 2021/22 announced today is double the Government’s funding in 2020/21, with the scheme appearing to gather pace.
The new cash injection could facilitate the installation of around 4,000 on-street EV chargers, which would double the current availability in the UK.
The DfT said authorities who have already received funding through the scheme can apply for more alongside those that have yet to take advantage of the pot.
A lack of charging infrastructure, especially for those without off-street parking, is one of the biggest hurdles stopping motorists switching to EVs
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Tuesday: ‘From Cumbria to Cornwall, drivers across the country should benefit from the electric vehicle revolution we’re seeing right now.
‘With a world-leading charging network, we’re making it easier for more people to switch to electric vehicles, creating healthier neighbourhoods and cleaning up our air as we build back greener.’
However, while government funds appear to be readily available, research published last month suggests take-up of the scheme has been slow.
Centrica said local councils are planning to install just 9,317 public charge points for electric cars between now and 2025, which in turn could cause a huge ‘bottleneck in adoption’ to plug-in vehicles in the coming years.
The new cash injection confirmed today could facilitate the installation of around 4,000 on-street EV chargers, which would double the current availability in the UK
|Council||Chargers per 100,000 people to be installed by 2025||Current on-street chargers|
|Richmond upon Thames||70.7||227|
|Source: Centrica FOI request to councils|
Westminster tops the list of councils planning to retrofit roads with on-street chargers, a report from Centrica revealed earlier this year. The local authority looks set to bolster its current availability of 497 charge points to 500.2 per 100,000 local residents by 2025
An average of 35 chargers per local authority are due to be provided in the next four years with 126 councils currently having no plans to fit any at all, despite the Government’s scheme to support installations.
And, in contrast to Mr Shapp’s ‘from Cumbria to Cornwall’ claim, Centrica’s report showed a significant disparity in on-street charger installations between regions, with local authorities in the south of England planning to install 2.5 times more on-street chargers than councils in Northern England, the Midlands, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
Commenting on the DfT’s new £20million cash injection for charging devices, Edmund King, AA president, said it has previously identified misuse of the government’s funds, with some councils tapping into the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme to add devices to their pay-and-display car parks.
‘For the 40 per cent of households without designated off-street parking, finding a viable, cheap and simple to use solution, is key,’ he said.
‘However, our own study last year showed that some councils used this grant to only fund charge points in town centre car parks.
‘While car park chargers are important, we feel this goes against the spirit of the grant which is aimed at overcoming tackling the problem of EV drivers without off-street parking.
‘The charging network must also be reliable which is why we are working with chargepoint operators to help keep the power flowing.’
Installation of chargers is lagging, says new report
The roll-out of electric car charging devices needs to be accelerated by five times the current pace of installations before a ban on new petrol and diesel cars comes into force in 2030, experts warned this morning.
Think tank, Policy Exchange, estimates that the UK needs around 400,000 public chargers by 2030.
In order to reach that target, the infrastructure needs to expand from current levels of 7,000 a year to 35,000 annually over the next decade.
It also warned that without additional funds or intervention from ministers, rural areas and small towns are at risk of becoming ‘charging blackspots’ and will restrict the appetite for electric vehicles in these regions.
Think tank, Policy Exchange, has reviewed the existing charging infrastructure and current rate of expansion. It says installations need to take pace immediately to facilitate the wider switch to EVs when new petrol and diesel cars are banned from sale in 2030
Report author and Policy Exchange senior research fellow Ed Birkett said the government should focus on areas where it ‘isn’t delivering enough public chargepoints, including the north west of England, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland’.
He added: ‘Companies are rolling out chargepoints at a record rate, but there’s a risk that some areas of the country won’t get enough chargepoints and will be left behind.
‘We’re concerned about patchy deployment of chargepoints, which runs against the government’s plans for levelling up and a strong and connected Union.’
The report made several additional recommendations to rapidly bolster the charging infrastructure, including contracting private firms to fit devices in areas where they are sparse and local councils to have dedicated teams to identify where and when chargers need to be installed.
It also called for a maximum usage charge and regulations for on-street chargers fitted using government funds to avoid providers exploiting local monopolies – and demanded improvements to usability of the devices so drivers could easily locate available devices and pay to use them using an app.
Commenting on the report, Rod Dennis, spokesman for the RAC, said: ‘Without a big increase in the number of charge points right across the UK, certain parts of the country risk getting left behind as 2030 approaches.
‘Having a sufficient number of charge points will also become especially important in those rural areas of the UK that see large annual influxes of visitors by car in the summer months.’
SIMON LAMBERT: Public charging is still not good enough
The best route for most electric car owners is a wall box for home charging, but for many people that’s not an option.
Mainly this is talked about as being a city problem, but it is it true of many towns and villages too – and owners with a wall box will drive places they need to charge before returning.
Over recent months I’ve been driving a variety of electric cars for reviews, without a wall box at home to charge them.
In my town of 30,000 people there is effectively one public charger
That’s meant relying on public chargers. So, is the infrastructure good enough?
I’m a great advocate of electric cars, but to be blunt: no, it isn’t.
In my Hertfordshire town of 30,000 people there is effectively one public charger.
I’ve been using the invaluable Zap Map site to find chargers and it actually shows there are three, however, one of them appears to be permanently out-of-service and another is within the gates of a car dealership, so is theoretically available to people but not publicly accessible.
That leaves a solitary charger in a public car park for the whole town.
It’s easy enough to use, but you can’t rely on it.
There is just one charging point – so when you need it, you’d better hope no one else does – and it is a 7KW charger that you are only allowed to use for a maximum of three hours.
At that rate of charging over three hours you can add about 40 per cent to the battery of the Peugeot e208 GT that I spent the past fortnight driving.
This means that it is physically impossible to use the only available public charger in a town of 30,000 people to fully charge an electric car.
The lack of charging was fine when electric cars were all about early adopters; those willing to plan and allow for a quirkier motoring life.
But we now need many more of the general population to go electric quickly and are falling short. We need more chargers, which are easier to use – and cheaper.
|Council||Number of current on-street chargers|
|Ards and North Down||2|
|Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon||4|
|Blackburn with Darwen||28|
|Dumfries and Galloway||0|
|Epsom and Ewell||1|
|Fermanagh & Omagh||21|
|Forest of Dean||0|
|King’s Lynn and West Norfolk||4|
|North East Derbyshire||11|
|North East Lincolnshire||2|
|Nuneaton and Bedworth||1|
|Perth and Kinross||54|
|Redcar and Cleveland||2|
|Reigate and Banstead||15|
|Telford and Wrekin||3|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||16|
|Source: Centrica FOI request to councils|
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