Transport ministers have written to councils to up their game in reducing emissions after it emerged that just five UK councils have taken the government up on a scheme to subsidise the installation of on-street electric car charging points.
The On-Street Residential Chargepoint scheme was launched in 2016, allowing councils to recoup 75 percent of the cost of charge points, but the Department for Transport has described uptake as ‘extremely disappointing’.
Just Portsmouth city council, Cambridge city council, Luton borough council, Kettering borough council and the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea have utilised the scheme so far, prompting ministers Jesse Norman and Claire Perry to pen a letter urging councils to take action.
Norman, the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, 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.’
According to the Department for Transport, there is still £4.5 million left in the fund – enough to fund thousands of extra charge points.
The RAC said it hoped the councils would take up the government’s funding to encourage the uptake of electric cars.
RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: ‘One of the key barriers holding back further take-up of electric vehicles is concern about the availability of charging infrastructure. Councils have a part to play in making sure residents can access charging infrastructure on public roads.
‘We've already seen good examples of street lighting being converted into charge points, and we'd hope more councils will take advantage of the scheme to assist in implementing new and innovative ways to help guide motorists who might be thinking “shall I go electric next time?”’
However, Councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said charging infrastructure require would require private sector funding as council budgets are already being stretched.
‘Councils are keen to embrace emerging transport technology for the benefits of their residents and communities,’ he said. ‘However, any new responsibilities to ensure there is sufficient electric car charging infrastructure must be matched with adequate funding. In the long term, this must be a role for the private sector.
‘Councils have many competing priorities and statutory responsibilities, including dealing with the rise in demand for children’s and adult social care, or tackling the £12 billion national backlog of road repairs. At the same time, local authorities have experienced significant cuts to their budgets, and face an overall funding gap of £5.8 billion by 2020.
‘We support the government’s focus on environmentally friendly travel and are keen to see more detail on a long-term, properly funded plan.’