The government has urged local authorities to take advantage of a £4.5m fund for electric vehicle (EV) charge points, after it was revealed just five councils have so far applied for money in the last two years.
Transport minister Jesse Norman and energy minister Claire Perry have jointly written to all councils, urging them to use the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, which will provide up to 75% of the cost of procuring and installing EV charge points.
The scheme was launched by the Department for Transport in 2016, but according to the letter, only five councils in the whole of the UK have so far taken advantage of it.
The two ministers have also called for local authorities to do more to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle air quality.
‘We are in the early stages of an electric revolution in the UK transport sector, and connectivity is at its heart,’ said Mr 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.
In addition, the government has also extended the current grant rates for both the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, and Plug-in Car Grant, which provides up to £4,500 to help motorists make the switch to electric.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has also urged councils to ‘Merton Rule’ under Section 106 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.
The REA’s head of electric vehicles, Matthew Trevaskis, 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,’ added Mr Trevaskis.
‘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,’ he added.