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Local authorities failing to accelerate EV infrastructure investment

Responses to Freedom of Information requests by international law firm RPC has revealed that in the last 12 months, local authorities have only marginally increased the rate at which they are installing public EV chargers from the previous year.

It is estimated that the UK currently has 44,000 EV charge points, meaning that in order to meet the government’s target of 300,ooo by 2030,  the UK needs to be installing nearly 40,000 a year from here on in.  Last year local authorities installed 8,000. Just 7% up on the previous year. 

 

Elizabeth Alibhai, Partner and Head of Real Estate at RPC, says: ‘The slow pace of EV installations by local authorities is a real concern. Although the picture is mixed, with some local authorities prioritising access to EV infrastructure and installing at pace, others have failed to install any EV chargers at all over the past year.

‘There is a consensus that the government’s £1.3 billion committed fund will only get us a fraction of the way to the 2030 target. Private investment will be needed to plug the gap, particularly in accessible spaces such as retail and office car parks, gyms and pubs.’

127 local authorities responded to the FOI request, some of whom – Crawley, Dudley, Barking & Dagenham, Norwich and Wandsworth – had not installed any EV chargers at all. 

At the other end of the scale Merton in Greater London installed 530 and Coventry 312. 

Elizabeth  draws attention to the fact that the shortfall in local authority investment is not being filled by the private sector: ‘Private investors are unsure about the size of the consumer market and what people will be willing to pay for EV usage. The upfront costs in connecting to the grid and complicated consent requirements can also put off investors.

‘It’s is a little bit chicken and egg – while the immediate benefit of installations will be to current EV drivers, the longer-term effect will be to incentivise greater uptake of EVs. Without widely available charging infrastructure it will be very hard to persuade motorists to make the switch.’

Aside from increased funding, Elizabeth Alibhai argues that legislation may be needed to hasten the rollout.

‘The government should be approaching this as a necessary investment in key national infrastructure. Although its goal is for the UK to have a world-leading charging network, there is currently no specific duty on local authorities to deliver, unlike their duty to meet housing requirements or work with neighbouring authorities to ensure they are met.’

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