Govt pledges more cash and open data to improve EV charging

 

Ministers have pledged to ‘ensure postcode plays no part in how easy it is to use an electric car’ after adding £5m to funding for on-street chargepoints.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced that central government funding for the installation of chargepoints on residential streets next year will be doubled to £10m.

”Local

Officials said this could fund up to 3,600 more chargepoints across the country, adding to 24,000 publicly available chargepoints.

Given the size of the projected increase and the fact that the scheme requires councils to part-fund and install new chargepoints, it is unclear how the new cash will ensure a uniform service across the country.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the Government is also looking at how to make information about all public chargepoints, including locations and power ratings, openly available in a standard format for the first time.

It will look at how real-time information could be published, showing whether chargepoints are in working order and currently in use, which could then be used by developers and incorporated into sat navs and route mapping apps.

Future of transport Minister George Freeman said: ‘Supporting the smart use of open data for new apps to help passengers and drivers plan journeys, and to reduce congestion and pollution, is key.

‘Comprehensive chargepoint data is crucial for mapping charging hotspots and notspots for consumers, to help to drive forward the electric vehicle revolution.’

He added: ‘We urge local councils to make use of the funding available to ensure their residents feel the benefits of cleaner transport.’

Mr Freeman’s comments reflect previously low take-up of the cash, under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.

As Transport Network has reported, ministers announced last August that cash available under the scheme for 2019/20 would be doubled from £2.5m to £5m.

However, this appeared to reflect unspent allocations of up to £3m from previous years.

In January 2018, ministers wrote to councils urging them to take up the scheme, after admitting that only five councils had come forward, of which two had at that time been awarded a total of £150,000.

It appears that the ministerial push was successful with 23 applications awarded a total of £1,554,775 in 2018/2019, although this still left £445,245 unallocated.

Local authorities have previously complained that, with the scheme providing 75% of installation costs, they did not have the cash to provide the remaining 25%.

However, the Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the new funding. A spokesman told Transport Network that while bidding for funding is never ideal, it is likely that many more councils have developed their plans for electric vehicle charging so the LGA anticipates better take-up for the fund.

Charging bay availability

This is a major issue for electric vehicle drivers in urban areas.

It is not automatically illegal to park a non-electric vehicle in a charging bay, meaning that chargepoints that are in theory available may not be physically accessible.

The Government does not appear to have any plans to change the law and takes the view that it a matter for the relevant authority to put in place any parking restrictions to create an 'EV only' bay.

The DfT suggested that authorities will be incentivised to discuss the issue of partking restrictions with chargepoint providers.

The LGA agreed with this position. Its spokesman said: 'Councils will determine their own regulations for on-street parking bays based on local circumstances, weighing up the needs of all road users, including the needs to promote electric vehicles.'

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