Ministers have set out proposals to make it easier for drivers to recharge electric vehicles and widen the availability of hydrogen refuelling stations.
In the week that the Government backed plans for a new runway at Heathrow, the Department for Transport (DfT) said that as part of its ‘ongoing commitment to making transport greener and improving air quality’ it is consulting on a series of measures to be included in the Modern Transport Bill.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘We are committed to making transport cleaner and giving even more drivers the option of using a low emission vehicle as we strive to improve air quality across the country.
‘Our ambition is for nearly all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040, and we are taking real steps to achieve this in the Modern Transport Bill.'
Labour’s shadow transport minister, Richard Burden MP, told Transport Network: ‘With the UK facing a deadly air quality crisis and the emissions scandal fresh in our minds, it is about time the Government start to ramp up for a zero emission future.
'Unfortunately while this consultation recognises the need for wider infrastructure to support the uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles, the Government seem to forget that their cuts earlier this year to plug-in, hybrid and homecharge grants are undermining the UK’s pathway to cleaner, greener roads.’
The Modern Transport Bill, which is due to be laid in Parliament next year, was announced in the Queen’s Speech in May.
However, although the speech pledged to put the UK ‘at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles', it did not specifically mention increasing the availability of recharging and refuelling for Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs).
The DfT said the measures it is proposing would give the Government powers to support the roll-out of charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and improve consumer access to the network by:
- making information about the location of public charging stations more accessible to the public
- ensuring that drivers can access chargepoints without the need for multiple memberships from individual providers
- giving powers to set common standards for all public chargepoints to ensure electric car owners can recharge anywhere, anytime
- making consumer pricing information for electricity and hydrogen fuels consistent and transparent
- supporting ‘smart’ electric vehicle charging that is flexible to grid demands
- ensuring there is provision of electric chargepoints and hydrogen refuelling points at large fuel retailers and motorway service areas
- encouraging the roll-out of hydrogen refuelling stations through franchising
Officials said there are currently more than 11,000 public chargepoints across the UK, which has Europe’s largest network of rapid chargepoints.
The Modern Transport Bill consultation on measures for low emission vehicle infrastructure will run until 23 November.
The Department for Transport has also announced plans for a joint working group with the Treasury and Defra, 'as part of a 10-year project to accelerate improvements in air quality'.