London, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Bristol have each been awarded millions in government funding to promote the use of plug-in electric cars, with drivers set to win special 'privileges'.
Proposals funded by the £40m Go Ultra Low City Scheme will give owners of plug-in cars what are described as 'extra local privileges', such as being allowed to drive in bus lanes in city centres.
The money will also fund rapid charging hubs and street lights that double as charging points, with the Government promising around 25,000 extra parking spaces for plug-in cars.
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Other councils – Dundee, Oxford, York and North East Combined Authority – are to share development funding of £5m for specific projects.
The largest award of £13m will go to London for schemes prioritising ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in a number of boroughs across the capital. For example, Harrow will bring in a Low Emission Zone giving plug-in cars parking and traffic priority.
Milton Keynes Council will open an ‘Electric Vehicle Experience Centre’, providing consumer advice and vehicles loans and will redefine bus lanes as low emission lanes. These will give plug-in vehicles the same priority as buses at traffic lights.
Drivers of ULEVs in Bristol will get access to three carpool lanes and people in the city thinking of buying a plug-in car will be able to lease one to try for up to four weeks.
A collaboration between Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and Derby City Council will give ULEV owners access to over 13 miles of bus lanes along key routes.
On a smaller scale, a trial being run in partnership by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council will look at how to deliver 100 on-street charging stations in residential areas in the city, particularly terraced streets where owners do not have driveways.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: ‘This project will put Oxfordshire at the forefront of innovative low carbon transport solutions and will help stimulate economic growth in the electric vehicle sector.'
Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low said: ‘The £40m investment by government, combined with funds from each winning area, will transform the roads for residents in and around the 4 Go Ultra Low Cities.’
She added: ‘Initiatives such as customer experience centres, free parking, permission to drive in bus lanes and hundreds of new, convenient public charging locations are sure to appeal to drivers and inspire other cities and local authorities to invest in the electric revolution.’