Long-awaited strategy launched with homes and offices to have electric charging points

New homes built in England will be required to be fitted with electric car charging points and 70% of new car registrations are targeted to be ultra-low emission by 2030 – in a strategy which attempts to tackle harmful emissions.

The new proposals unveiled by transport secretary Chris Grayling are part of The Department for Transport’s Road to Zero Strategy for reducing exhaust emissions from vehicles. In addition, the plan calls for new street lighting columns on UK roads to have charging points, with on-street parking, in appropriate locations.

The launch of a £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund to help accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure is central to the shift in electric cars in a bid to reach ambitious targets of air quality.

Commenting on the announcement, the transport secretary said the ambitious plan “sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero emission revolution”.

“The coming decades are going to be transformative for our motor industry, our national infrastructure and the way we travel,” Grayling added. “We expect to see more change in the transport sector over the next 10 years than we have in the previous century. We are expecting our economy and society to experience profound change, which is why we have marked the Future of mobility as one of the four grand challenges as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

However, the government’s announcement had already been criticised before being published with Lord Deben from the committee on Climate Change demanding the government “got on with it”. Environmental groups have also stated the strategy is not far-reaching enough and not as ambitious as other European countries.

Summary of what the Road to Zero includes:

  • Ambition for at least 50% — and as many as 70% — of new car sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, alongside up to 40% of new vans.
  • A push for charge points to be installed in newly built homes, where appropriate, and new lampposts to include charging points, potentially providing a massive expansion of the plug-in network.
  • Creating a new £40m programme to develop and trial innovative, low cost wireless and on-street charging technology.
  • The launch of an Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce to bring together the energy and automotive industries to plan for the increase in demand on energy infrastructure that will result from a rise in the use of electric vehicles.

Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: "While the commitment to invest in and promote electric charging points is welcome, overall the strategy fails to match the urgency of the situation. This means another generation will pass before we have real action on cutting harmful CO2 emissions and cleaning up deadly vehicle pollution. Interim 2030 targets for zero emission cars and vans are a small step forward, but not good enough. We need action now: ending all sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 is the latest that should be acceptable, bearing in mind that cars will stay on the road long after purchase.”

Adam Selvey, director at Ramboll, commented: “It’s encouraging to see the government is finally acknowledging that our homes are going to be one of the main places where we will charge our electric vehicles. However, with only new buildings covered by this announcement, we would question whether the policy goes far enough. The UK’s 28 million existing homes dwarf the 150,000 new dwellings being built each year, so the problem will not be solved by these rules. We need policy to focus on our existing housing stock or it could be another 50 years before the majority of our homes are able to accommodate electric vehicles. 

“Furthermore, as we add charging infrastructure to our houses, building regulations and energy charging structures will need updating too. If everyone charges their cars in the evenings after a day at work, the grid won’t cope, and regulations are needed to avoid this issue. Electrical tariffs like Economy 7 could be updated and incentivised to ensure that we charge our cars as smartly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Labour responded negatively with shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claiming that the strategy is nothing more than a “road to nowhere”.

He said: “At a time when the planet is threatened by climate change and air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths each year, it is dangerous for the government to row back on their commitments to clean up road transport. This isn’t a Road to Zero, it’s a road to nowhere. Under the Tories, Britain is being held back from the transition towards electric vehicles which is already happening elsewhere across the globe. The government must set an ambitious target to remove polluting vehicles from our roads, backed up by a detailed plan for achieving it and an industrial strategy to help Britain’s automotive sector become a leader in this emerging global industry.”

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