Councils have been urged to apply for funding from a multi-million pound scheme open to boost on-street electric car charging infrastructure, after ministers admitted that only a handful of authorities had applied for cash.
Funding is available under the Department for Transport’s On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme launched in 2016, offering funding for local authorities to buy and install electric car charge points.
The initiative is among a series of policies that ministers hope will contribute towards meeting air quality targets.
But, according to the DfT take-up of the scheme more than a year after its launch has been “extremely disappointing” with only five councils having successfully applied for funding through the scheme.
This has prompted transport minister Jesse Norman and Claire Perry, minister of state for climate change and industry to write to councils urging them to take advantage of the available funding.
The two government ministers urged councils to take up the offer which makes available up to 75% of the cost of procuring and installing charge-points for electric vehicles. Local authorities can fund the remaining costs through public and private sources.
Transport Minister, Jesse Norman said: “We are in the early stages of an electric revolution in the UK transport sector, and connectivity is at its heart.
“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.”
According to the government around a third of homes in England do not have off-street parking, making it extremely difficult to charge an electric vehicle overnight.
This is seen as a significant barrier to the uptake of plug-in vehicles, which can offer zero tailpipe emissions, as drivers may be concerned about the lack of available charging points to refill their car.
In London the picture is thought to be different with councils having access to separate funding pots, in particular a shared fund secured through the Go Ultra Low Cities scheme, which is believed to have seen significant interest from local authorities.
Commenting on the letter, Matthew Trevaskis, head of electric vehicles at the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said:“A sea-change in transport is underway but creating a mass-market for EVs is a chicken-and-egg scenario. Prices for new electric cars are falling and widespread uptake will bring benefits for the UK and consumers, but a viable charging infrastructure needs to be in place for them to really become commonplace across the country.
“Local authorities have a key role to play in supporting uptake and action should be taken to ensure that all funding for this sector is used. On-street charging, which this funding targets, is also just one portion of the larger picture. Local authorities need to be thinking about a rapid expansion of charging facilities at workplaces, at supermarkets, along major roadways and in other retail spaces to offer other alternatives for those without off-street parking.
“Planning legislation including the ‘Merton Rule’ gives them the capability to introduce building standards that go beyond central government requirements, for example compelling developers to create buildings with onsite solar and EV charge points.”
According to REA, local authorities, under Section 106 requirements and the “Merton Rule,” have the ability to go further than only use central Government funds. This includes powers to compel developers to build EV charge units on their properties, alongside other measures such as requirements for buildings to self-generate a portion of their own power through onsite renewables.
DfT – On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme