Ministers Jesse Norman and Claire Perry have called for local authorities to do more to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle air quality after it emerged just five councils in the UK have taken advantage of an electric car scheme.
In 2016, the Department for Transport (DfT) launched the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, offering funding for local authorities to buy and install electric car charge points. However, it says that the take-up more than a year later has been extremely disappointing.
The ministers have written to councils urging them to take up the scheme which makes available up to 75% of the cost of procuring and installing chargepoints. Local authorities can fund the remaining costs through public and private sources.
Norman said: “We are in the early stages of an electric revolution in the UK transport sector, and connectivity is at its heart.
“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.”
The money has been available since 2016, but so far only five councils have come forward, so there is £4.5 million still available for them – enough for thousands of extra points, says the DfT.
With a host of different support schemes for electric vehicles announced in the Autumn Statement, including a Charging Investment Infrastructure Fund to accelerate the roll out of charging infrastructure, and more money to help people buy electric cars, the on-street scheme is an important part of the toolkit, it says.
Around a third of homes in England do not have off-street parking, making it extremely difficult to charge an electric vehicle overnight. As a result, it said that on-street charge points like those being offered through this scheme have the potential to entice drivers to switch to electric.
Matthew Trevaskis, head of electric vehicles at the Renewable Energy Association, 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.
“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.”