Called the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme, it is designed to allow local authorities access to funding to increase both the number of charge points available in their areas, and the scope of technologies they are using.
Nine areas were successful out of a total of 42 which made an application for a share. These are: Dorset Council, Durham County Council, Kent County Council, Lincolnshire County Council, London Borough of Barnet, North Yorkshire County Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Suffolk County Council and Warrington Borough Council.
Proposals thus far will see the installation of 1038 charge points installed across these areas including 300 installed in pavements. As well as on-street charging, a number of hubs are planned to be delivered through the funding.
These new chargers will join around 2900 which have been installed as part of the On-Street Residential Charge Point Scheme (ORCS), which will deliver around 10,000 by the time it has chewed through all of the money available. Furthermore, the LEVI pilot is just the first part of what will be a £450m scheme to help local authorities improve their charging infrastructure.
Decarbonisation minister Trudy Harrison said: “We want to expand and grow our world-leading network of EV charge points, working closely with industry and local government, making it even easier for those without driveways to charge their electric vehicles and support the switch to cleaner travel.
“This scheme will help to level up electric vehicle infrastructure across the country, so that everyone can benefit from healthier neighbourhoods and cleaner air.”
The Energy Saving Trust is just one of many bodies which have welcomed the scheme. Hugh Pickerill, programme manager for electric vehicle grants and infrastructure at Energy Saving Trust said: “This is a pioneering scheme that will support access to convenient and reliable EV charging for everyone. The LEVI Support Body looks forward to working with local authorities on applications to the full fund soon.”
Whilst it’s great news that there is more money and new schemes available for local governments to play their part in decarbonising road transport, there is an ongoing issue with uptake of cash that is already available. According to the AA, just 107 local authorities in the UK have applied for money through ORCS, which has been going for more than five years. This is from a pool of 333 local councils in England alone, not to mention the 9000-plus parish councils which can also use the scheme.
Since its inception in 2017, just 12,412 devices have been installed using ORCS funding, according to DfT data, with two thirds of these in London alone. There is an additional worry that chargers installed earlier on via the scheme will also be outdated, unreliable and devoid of things like contactless payment, which most EV users now expect.
Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said: “Right now, electric vehicles are middle-class cars. Drivers need somewhere safe and close to home to charge for several hours before they even consider going electric – over 40 per cent of drivers say would only ever park directly outside their home to charge. However, off-street home charging isn’t available to people in flats or terraced houses – the result is that it is wealthier households that have access to a driveway, who currently make up more than 80 per cent of EV owners and who benefit from the vastly lower running costs of EVs.”
He highlighted how local authorities don’t only have to rely on central funding to bring their offering into line with their residents’ expectations: “Installing on-street chargers for those that don’t have driveways must be a priority if we are to guarantee a fair transition to electric vehicles. Government funding is available, and while uptake of that funding could be higher, we should also recognise that this is not the only avenue available to local authorities seeking to deploy equitable charging infrastructure. Councils can fund installs themselves, keeping the majority of profits from the network, or work in partnership with charge point operators like Connected Kerb, who can fully fund the cost of installation and operation themselves.”
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