‘Extremely disappointing’ take-up by councils for electric car points cash

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The lack of councils taking advantage of a £4.5 million fund for thousands of electric car charge points is “extremely disappointing”, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

Since 2016 local authorities have been able to apply for cash to cover 75% of the cost of buying and installing on-street charge points, but only five have taken advantage of the offer.

Councils are expected to make up the rest of the money through public and private sources.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “The take-up more than a year later has been extremely disappointing, meaning people up and down the country are being denied the opportunity to take advantage of the technology.”

Only drivers living in Portsmouth, Kensington and Chelsea, Cambridge, Luton and Kettering have benefited from the scheme.

Government ministers Jesse Norman and Claire Perry have written to local authority bosses to remind them about the £4.5 million scheme and highlight the benefits of switching to electric vehicles.

Mr Norman said: “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 Committee on Climate Change has said 60% of new cars and vans must be electric by 2030 to meet carbon targets cost-effectively.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles had a 4.7% share of the new car market last year, up from 3.3% in 2016.

Jesse Norman MP
Government minister Jesse Norman has highlighted the scheme and its benefits to council leaders (David Jones/PA)

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “The poor take-up of these seemingly generous grants is disappointing.

“It is essential that local authorities future-proof their streets.”

A recent study for motoring research charity the RAC Foundation found that growth in electric car use could be stalled by limitations in the public charging network.

The mass market appeal of ultra-green vehicles may be restricted without widespread, reliable and easy-to-use charging points, the report warned.

Local Government Association transport spokesman Martin Tett insisted councils are keen to embrace emerging transport technology but they “cannot take on the role of replacing petrol stations”.

It is the responsibility of the private sector to ensure there are sufficient electric car charging points in the long term, he added.

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