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Councils criticised over electric vehicles

Local authorities stand accused of denying people the opportunity to drive electric vehicles after it emerged that just five councils have come forward for Government funding to introduce charging points.

In 2016, the Department for Transport launched the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, making available for councils up to 75% of the cost of procuring and installing chargers. The pot was initially worth £1.5M, with a further £4.5M announced last year.

But the Department said this week that take up so far has been “extremely disappointing”, with money still available for thousands of extra points. “People up and down the country are being denied the opportunity to take advantage of the technology,” it said.

Ministers are now calling for local authorities to do more to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle air quality, and are writing to council leaders to remind them about the scheme.

“We are in the early stages of an electric revolution in the UK transport sector, and connectivity is at its heart,” said Transport Minister Jesse Norman. “Millions of homes in the UK do not have off street parking, so this funding is important to help local councils ensure that all their residents can take advantage of this revolution.”

Responding to the criticism of councils, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman Martin Tett said: “Councils are keen to embrace emerging transport technology for the benefits of their residents and communities, with some councils working through the planning system to ensure developers fund charging points.

“However, they cannot take on the role of replacing petrol stations. Any new responsibilities to ensure there is sufficient electric car charging infrastructure must be matched with adequate funding. Long term this must be a role for the private sector.”

A spokesman for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership commented that the provision of on street charging infrastructure can be a complex and time consuming process for resource constrained local authorities.

“As demand for EVs grows and the experience of providing this type of infrastructure improves and is shared, we would expect to see more rapid progress towards meeting this challenge,” the spokesman added.

♦ Ideas for making the UK’s road network ready to support connected and autonomous vehicles are sought as part of a competition launched by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The commission is looking for entries covering how existing infrastructure can be adapted, how roads shared by driverless and driven vehicles can work, and how these changes can be introduced alongside charging networks for new electric cars.

The five best submissions will go through to a second round, with each given up to £30,000 to develop their ideas further. The winner will then be announced later in the year. The competition is being run alongside Highways England and Innovate UK. For more information visit nic.org.uk

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