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£1bn fund for UK EV network expansion closed for three years

Despite being unveiled in 2020, a scheme designed to expand plug-in facilities at motorway service stations is still not accepting bids. 

blue and white wooden open signage

In total, around £1billion in financing ringfenced for the project remains unallocated. The so-called ‘rapid charging fund’ was initially announced in the first few weeks of the UK’s national Covid-19 lockdown, and was aimed at boosting efforts to bring the transport network into the low and zero emission age. 

A pilot had then been planned for late-2022, but this was then pushed back to spring 2023 before a further delay set a new date for this summer. However, so far this is yet to materialise, with the most recent statement suggesting another postponement because the House of Commons is still ‘in the process of developing a pilot, which will open in due course’. 

The UK Government has been heavily criticised for its recent rollback of policies and plans aimed at bolstering the country’s net zero ambitions, which many see as indicative of weak commitment to the environment. Meanwhile, questions have long been asked about the effectiveness, speed and efficiency of investment and support for the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charge points in the UK, with some arguing that even if the proposed ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine cars by 2030 had not been moved back to 2035, national infrastructure would not be ready to support such a transition. 

‘Many amazing EV and charging projects have been funded in recent years, and it’s exciting to see the future of UK infrastructure developing widely across regions — yet clarity across the industry has been an issue so far, David Hall, VP of Power Systems at EV infrastructure specialist Schneider Electric, told Environment Journal.

‘However, the Government has done a lot of work in the past few months to develop and deliver a sound plan with the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund and Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) mandate in the Autumn Statement, along with the announcement of the £960m fund for a “green industries growth accelerator” programme,’ he continued. ‘The zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate unveiled last month means the country will have the most ambitious regulatory framework for the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) in the world — despite the delay. This framework requires 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold in Great Britain to be zero emission by 2030, increasing to 100% by 2035. The 2035 end-of-sale date puts the UK in line with other major global economies, including France, Germany, Sweden and Canada’

More on transport: 

Ealing Council improves EV charge point provision

None come at once: England and Wales bus services fall 60%

UK lagging on low carbon vehicle innovation

Image: Lisa Bresler

 

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