Council uptake of EV charging infrastructure stalls despite opportunities

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With more and more car manufacturers changing their production lines and marketing to focus on the sales of electric vehicles instead of diesel and petrol fuelled cars, the rEVolution is now properly underway. Over the coming years, it is expected to only gather in pace, spurred on by global concerns about climate change and public health issues. According to the Royal College of Physicians, in the UK alone, 40,000 people per year die of illnesses related to air quality issues. Public Health England recently called for the state of toxic air, particularly in cities, to be improved.

Despite these compelling arguments to speedily move forward with EV transition, a recent freedom of information request launched by the Liberal Democrats showed that over 100 local authorities in England and Wales do not have plans to increase electric vehicle charging infrastructure in their area. As millions of homes in the UK don’t have off-road parking, having widely accessible public EV charging points is deemed vital to encourage drivers to choose and electric car and combat “range anxiety”: the fear to run out of battery. Among the places that currently have no plans to increase the number of charging points are Bolton, Swansea and Wolverhampton. It is believed that cuts to council budgets are to be blamed for any slow-down in charging infrastructure uptake.

However, last year the UK government revealed that although funding aimed at increasing the number of on-street EV charging infrastructure was available, only five local authorities had taken advantage of it. And this year the government has launched a Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, committing £400m towards the roll-out of charging points. A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Our vision is to have one of the best infrastructure networks in the world for electric vehicles, and we want charging points to be accessible, affordable and secure. Our Road to Zero strategy sets out our commitment to massively expand electric vehicle infrastructure, while the £400m public-private charging infrastructure investment fund will see thousands more charging points installed across the UK.”

So not only is national government making funding available, the EV phenomenon spells an opportunity for councils to help plug any gaps in the budget. For example, in authority areas which host solar and/or wind farms, the council could agree a Power Purchase Agreement with the renewables operator and install EV charging infrastructure on their land to ‘sell’ the green electricity to electric vehicle drivers. New technology comes with new opportunities, and it would be a shame not to look into them.

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