‘Britain will be left behind’ Most UK councils are not ready for EVs- ‘extremely worrying’

Frustrated BBC caller questions value of electric cars

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Local authorities across the UK have been encouraged by the Government to publish strategies when it comes to transitioning to electric vehicles. However, a recent investigation carried out by FairCharge, a UK campaign for electric vehicles, has found that just 28 percent of local authorities have released a strategy for supporting the switch to electric motoring.

Additional data gathered in the process revealed that a further 23 percent of councils are in the process of devising a plan.

London turned out to be the region with the highest proportion of councils with a published strategy, standing at 57 percent.

The capital was followed by the West Midlands (44 percent), Scotland (38 percent), and the North West (30 percent).

At the other end of the scale were Northern Ireland with zero percent, the East Midlands with 10 percent, and Wales with 13 percent.

Earlier this year, the Department for Transport (DfT) released its EV Infrastructure Strategy which stated that the Government will “transform local on-street charging by putting an obligation on local authorities (subject to consultation) to develop and implement local charging strategies.”

The DfT added that the local leadership is “essential to creating new investment opportunities and inspiring local confidence in EVs”.

Quentin Wilson, a FairCharge spokesperson and a former Top Gear presenter, said: “There is a real chance that much of the country will be left behind.”

He continued: “The figures revealed from councils in our freedom of information requests are extremely worrying.

“BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and DfT say that local authorities are best placed to consider local needs.

“This of course is true, but we can see today that without a big role for the central Government in supporting councils, there is a real chance that much of the country will be left behind in terms of public charging infrastructure.”

Mr Wilson added: “Councils clearly need to up their game too, but there needs to be direction and oversight from central Government.”

The expert also pointed out that EV owners without access to off-road parking at home often rely on public charge points installed by councils.

The former Top Gear presenter said: “The figures are so concerning because they mean that many people – such as those without driveways – will be hindered from taking part in the EV revolution.

“This is simply unfair and will hold us back in our efforts to decarbonise transport.

“The Government should waste no time in placing a statutory duty on local authorities to produce EV transition strategies.”

In a recent response to a parliamentary question on EVs, minister for energy, clean growth and climate change Greg Hands said the Government will “monitor and engage with local authorities as they progress with their strategies”.

David Renard who is a transport spokesman for the Local Government Association added that decarbonising the way people travel is a priority for councils.

Mr Renard stressed that this includes supporting the transition to electric vehicles.

He said: “Councils recognise that they have an important role to play in the provision of electric vehicle charge points but there are significant barriers that need to be overcome, including access to funding, to expertise and connections to the grid.

“There are also financial risks to councils and local taxpayers given that this is still an emerging industry and technology, and how people will charge continues to change.”

He continued: “We are pleased, however, that the national strategy recognises these barriers and has started to address them.

“The LGA will continue to work with OZEV (the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles) and councils to ensure that they get the support that they need in the rollout of this vital infrastructure.”

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