Petrol car ban under threat over ‘lack of support’ for electric vehicles in rural areas

GB News guests debate using electric cars in 2022

Rishi Sunak could be put under extreme pressure to delay the Government’s planned petrol and diesel car ban with rural areas struggling to keep up with electric car infrastructure.

Quite simply, the number of charging bays is nowhere near up to scratch in rural areas with just over half a decade to go before the ban on sales of combustion vehicles.

New Freedom of Information Act figures from Vauxhall reveal there are just 17,047 on-street chargers in the UK with 75 percent of these based in London.

Government data is also telling with just 44,020 chargers installed in the UK despite a target of 300,000 by the end of the decade. The North West has just 39 public charging devices per 100,000 people with just 9.9 rapid chargers for the same population.

Yorkshire and the Humber has just 45 chargers per 100,000 people while the East Midlands (43), and Northern Ireland (23) are way behind the curve.

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Tim Alcock, spokesperson for LeaseElectricCar has warned a lack of facilities is likely to discourage motorists based in the countryside from making the switch.

He told Express.co.uk: “Rural EV take-up is like a see-saw: electric vehicle ownership in the countryside will continue to remain low if more public charging bays aren’t made available.

“Yet without the demand from these less populated areas to install EV infrastructure, it will continue to be hard to receive the right funding and willingness from local authorities to install these devices.

“EV drivers will continue to see a lack of support in rural communities, making it far less likely to encourage petrol and diesel motorists living in the countryside to make the switch to electric.”

It’s a view shared by Mo Metcalf-Fisher, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, who also fears drivers’ climate supporters may opt for a combustion vehicle to avoid adding complications to their commute.

electric car petrol

The Government’s petrol ban could be under threat due to a lack of charging infrastructure (Image: Getty)

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he said: “In theory, rural people could just as likely purchase electric vehicles as those living in towns and cities, but we need to be realistic about how the current charging infrastructure will act as a barrier at the moment.

“No one wants to find themselves stranded in a remote area in the middle of the night because they are miles from the nearest charging point, nor do they want to queue for hours for the only charging point in the village to become available.”

ZapMap data also shows a massive geographical divide with just one percent of the UK’s charging stations located in Northern Ireland.

According to these experts, the North East has just 1,489 bays (3.3 percent) while Wales has just 1,926 stations (4.2 percent).

In comparison, London has almost a third of all chargers in the country with 14,360 (31.4 percent) available.

electric car chargers

Rural areas have less electric chargers than cities (Image: Getty)

Mr Metcalfe-Fisher has warned the countryside cannot be expected to “play catch up” with urban areas as he called on the Government to do more.

He added: “We need to see more charging points open in rural locations and think about alternative spaces to put them.

“For example, with their permission, charging points could be installed in village hall and church car parks, providing the added benefit of a new income stream for them.

Climate charity Possible has also stressed more bays needed to be fitted as a matter of urgency.

Hirra Khan Adeogun, co-director, told Express.co.uk: “The lack of public transport, and charging bays, in rural areas locks people into their old petrol cars.

“We urgently need to install more EV charging stations while also building more cycle lanes and investing in buses to reduce the number of petrol cars on our roads and meet our climate targets in the long-term.”

ev charging stations

The lack of infrastructure could turn people away from buying EVs (Image: Getty)

Back in June, the Government revealed a new £7million support fund to help boost connectivity in remote areas across the UK. Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey admitted rural areas make up 90 percent of the UK land mass with extra support needed to build a “sustainable future”.

But the increased investment could still be too little too late with 256,000 chargers needed just to hit the target by 2030. The only ray of hope is that there has been a seven-fold increase from the number of charges in 2016 where just 6,546 bays were available.

On a similar trajectory, the Government would beat the target but dealing with larger quantities could have its obstacles. Tory MPs are likely to put pressure on the PM to slow down with his eco agenda after winning Boris Johnson’s former seat in Uxbridge after campaigning against Labour’s ULEZ charge.

zap map electric charging bays

ZapMap shows the divide between regions (Image: ZapMap)

Leading frontbenchers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and former leader Iain Duncan Smith have already written to Sunak asking for him to delay the 2030 deadline.

Adrian Keen, CEO of InstaVolt, a firm responsible for installing bays, has stressed there was now a renewed push to target electric charger dead zones.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he commented: “We are investing in our infrastructure and more chargers are being installed than ever before. Over the past 12 months, we have installed over 400 chargers across the UK, 111 of these chargers being across the East of England, the North West and Wales, plugging gaps in these less developed areas.

“Collectively, the industry is building infrastructure that is appropriate to support the 2030 ban in petrol and diesel cars. To highlight the progress being made, InstaVolt installed a record numbers of chargers in the first quarter of 2023 as our own roll-out gathers pace.”

source: express.co.uk