Millions could miss out on benefits of electric vehicles

Millions of people could miss out on the environmental and financial benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), according to a new report.

The report by the think tank Localis warns poorer parts of the country could get left behind unless local authorities are given to power to draw up their own ‘smart city’ plans and energy policies.

In addition, it argues local authorities should be able to form their own consortiums using existing knowledge of their local areas, and also be empowered to work with private energy network providers to deliver the infrastructure they need for the future.

The report also emphasised that families across the UK are at risk of sharing the cost for necessary new energy infrastructure, but not being able to access for themselves the benefits of EVs and other ‘smart’ technologies – driving further inequality between richer and poorer parts of the country.

‘Without a change in regulation, behaviour and a wholesale transfer of powers for local energy policies, we risk a tale of two cities in our major urban centres – deepening levels of inequality between the prosperous and more deprived parts of town,’ said Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran.

‘A ‘devolution revolution’ in locally-regulated energy markets has the potential to accelerate the nation’s switch to clean growth, turn UK cities into powerhouses for sustainable and inclusive prosperity and improve livelihoods in towns and cities across the UK.’

In November, a report by researchers at Imperial College London and E4tech, facilitated by Imperial Consultants and commissioned by Drax Group, warned a regional divide is rapidly developing with London and Scotland pulling ahead in terms of shifting towards renewable energy, while parts of the North of England and East Midlands are lagging behind.

‘Today’s report sets out many of the challenges and opportunities for Glasgow as we continue on our transition to a ‘smart city’,’ said Glasgow City Council’s city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, Cllr Anna Richardson.

‘New technologies like EVs can play a part in decarbonising our transport system and improving our air quality – but they need to be rolled out fairly across the city, so everyone can benefit, and not exacerbate existing inequalities,’ added Cllr Richardson.

‘The recommendations today can help ensure that government, and local authorities up and down the country, are able to oversee a successful shift to smarter technologies in a way that is fair, affordable and equitable.’