MPs launch new scheme to boost EV charging infrastructure

The Government has launched a new £20million scheme to boost the number of charging points for electric car drivers who are without access to chargers at home.

The Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) is the latest ploy by transport officials to increase the accelerate the availability of devices across the country as part of its wider electric vehicle push, promising that the initial pilot will deliver more than 1,000 new chargepoints in areas where they are needed most.

It comes just a week after fresh statistics revealed that cash-strapped councils are failing to take advantage of a similar government scheme launched in 2017, with just 107 local authorities applying for a grant towards the cost of charging point installations in the last five years. 

Another attempt at boosting charging infrastructure: The Government has today announced a new Local EV Infrastructure scheme to fund new on-street charging installations

Another attempt at boosting charging infrastructure: The Government has today announced a new Local EV Infrastructure scheme to fund new on-street charging installations

The first round of the new LEVI scheme will see over 1,000 devices installed across Barnet, Dorset, Durham, Kent, the Midlands (primarily Lincolnshire), North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and Warrington.

The Department for Transport says the pilot will be half funded by the Government (£10million), while £9million will come from the industry via charging operators and a £1.9million injection from the nine local authorities who successfully bid.

Ministers described its £10million investment of taxpayer money as a ‘first tranche’ of a planned £450million it wants to pump into a fuller LEVI scheme.

The aim is to ‘create new, commercial EV charging infrastructure for residents’, especially those who do not have off-street parking, which accounts for around a third of UK homeowners. 

The cash will be used for both the installation of faster on-street devices that offer the shortest charging durations and creation of larger ‘petrol station-style’ charging hubs within communities.

The £20million pilot scheme promises to deliver more than 1,000 new chargepoints in areas where they are needed most

The £20million pilot scheme promises to deliver more than 1,000 new chargepoints in areas where they are needed most

MPs have set a target of 300,000 public charging points by 2030, though currently there are just over 32,000 in the UK, according to its latest records

MPs have set a target of 300,000 public charging points by 2030, though currently there are just over 32,000 in the UK, according to its latest records

DfT records also show a clear north-south divide in terms of installations of electric car charging points

DfT records also show a clear north-south divide in terms of installations of electric car charging points

‘The rollout supports the government’s drive to encourage more motorists to go electric, which can save drivers money on fuel and running costs, and improve air quality as the country moves towards net zero,’ the DfT statement said.

Trudy Harrison, minister for decarbonisation, said the scheme will ‘help to level up electric vehicle infrastructure across the country’.

Edmund King, president at the AA, welcomed the news, saying it is ‘essential that more on-street chargers are delivered to boost the transition to zero emission vehicles for those without home charging’. 

It is abundantly clear that the Government needs to conceive new ways in which to accelerate the growth of the nation’s electric car charging infrastructure ahead of the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars.

The DfT’s own figures published last month – which are powered by Zap-Map – show it is already falling woefully behind its charging point objectives set out earlier in the year. 

MPs in March announced a target of having 300,000 public chargepoints installed across the country by 2030.

However, just 32,011 devices are currently in place in the UK, meaning a further 267,989 are needed in the next eight-and-a-bit years.

Around three in five councils are said to be behind schedule in their rollout of public charging points – and some have even seen their networks shrink in the last 12 months.

These are the local authorities that have reduced their public electric car charging point networks by the most over the last 12 months, despite the Government calling for there to be 300,000 devices across the country by the end of the decade

These are the local authorities that have reduced their public electric car charging point networks by the most over the last 12 months, despite the Government calling for there to be 300,000 devices across the country by the end of the decade

There is also a significant north-south divide in terms of availability, which could also limit the uptake of electric cars in some parts of the country. 

This fairly bleak picture is despite local authorities having access to the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) – a fund specifically designed to boost localised charging access – for the last five years.

It provides a grant to part-fund up to a maximum of 60 per cent of the cost to install charging devices in their areas, though it seems that many cash-stricken councils are unable to cover the remaining financial burden and therefore not registering to access it.

Earlier this week we revealed that just 107 UK local authorities have applied to that scheme since 2017 and almost a third (63 per cent) to secure funding are London boroughs.

To put it into context, in England alone there are 333 councils, and over 9,000 parish councils are also able to apply for funding.

As of 1 July, only 2,869 devices have been installed using the ORCS, which represents £10.2million of grant funding to 95 councils in total.

Approval for a further 9,543 devices has also been granted, though devices have not yet been installed.

DfT figures have revealed that just 107 councils across the UK have successfully applied for the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) that was launched five years ago

DfT figures have revealed that just 107 councils across the UK have successfully applied for the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) that was launched five years ago 

DfT records show that 7,914 of the 12,412 chargers that have - or are due - to be installed via the scheme are in London boroughs. This represents 64% of all chargers being fitted

DfT records show that 7,914 of the 12,412 chargers that have – or are due – to be installed via the scheme are in London boroughs. This represents 64% of all chargers being fitted

The DfT confirmed today that a further £10million in funding has been brought forward for the ORCS this financial year, bringing the total available to £30million.

This is ‘following growing demand from local authorities,’ the department claimed. 

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes added: ‘We know that there are many drivers who do not have driveways or any form of off-street parking, so investing in streetside charging is an absolute necessity. 

‘Drivers can also look forward to the prospect of local charging hubs which will give them somewhere to quickly charge their vehicles without needing to drive any considerable distance. 

‘The goal must be to spark electric vehicle uptake by creating an excellent charging infrastructure that caters for everyone’s needs.’

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source: dailymail.co.uk