Chris Ames 22 August 2022

Drivers 'crying out' for chargers close to home

Drivers crying out for chargers close to home image
Image: PattPaulStudio/Shutterstock.com.

Research by the AA has revealed huge gaps across the UK where there is little to no residential on-street electric vehicle charging, with government schemes making limited progress.

New data shows that just 2,869 chargers have been installed under the Government's On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) over six years.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT) statistics, by the end of July, 95 councils had installed charge points under the scheme, representing £10.2m of grant funding, with 27 of these having been awarded further funding of £9.8m to install a further 2,201 charging devices.

A further 80 local authorities have also been awarded grant funding value of £23.4m, for 7,342 on-street public charging devices.

The scheme was launched in 2016/17 and initially had such low take up that ministers wrote to councils to encourage them to apply.

Up to the end of March 2022, a total of around £50m was in theory available and a further £20m for the current financial year.

While the £43.4m allocated seems well short of this, DfT officials warned that the figures reported may lag actual allocations.

ORCS grants are offered to successful applicants, but funds are only released upon final completion of information. Charging devices are only counted as installed when they have been installed and claimed for by the local authority.

The scheme is available to all UK local authorities to fund up to 60% of the capital costs of installing on-street residential charging devices. Until 1 April 2022, the scheme covered up to 75% of the costs.

The AA said the low number of charge points installed means that there are huge areas across the country where drivers without dedicated off-street residential parking are reliant on the public charging network or workplace charging should their employer have it.

It called for an urgent boost in on-street charging to help the 40% of households without a driveway, parking space or garage take part in the transition to electric cars.

Head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: 'Drivers without dedicated off-street parking looking to switch to electric cars want to have the option for cheaper, affordable charging close to home rather than be reliant on the rapid network.

‘But there are huge swathes of the country without any on-street charging and that needs to be rectified urgently.

‘So much focus has been placed on the rapid and ultra-rapid network but many will be crying out for action closer to home. We are also concerned that rural areas could be left miles behind as on-street charging is often considered to be just an urban problem.’

A DfT spokesperson said: ‘We’ve committed £2.5bn to accelerate the roll-out of zero emission vehicles and charging infrastructure across the country, ensuring the transition is as simple as possible for motorists, as we take steps towards a greener transport future.

‘As these latest statistics show, we’ll be funding thousands more chargepoints across the country – adding to the thousands that are already installed – to help drivers become even more confident in making the switch to electric vehicles.’

The Local Government Association (LGA) has previously criticised ORCS on a number of grounds, including the need for councils to provide both capital and revenue funding for charge points.

A spokesperson told Transport Network: ‘Local authorities wants to help residents play their part in net zero by switching to an electric vehicle. On-street charging has an important role to play, but still requires direct public subsidy in most cases. The scale and design of the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme scheme made it difficult for many authorities to access this funding.

‘The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles looks to have listened to the feedback of the LGA and local authorities about these in designing its replacement of the ORCS scheme with the £450m Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure scheme. The pilot is now open but details of the full scheme are yet to emerge.

‘The LGA recommends that every local authority receives at least some if not all of this funding via formula rather than bidding to enable a rapid increase in charge points in every local authority, including rural areas.’

This article first appeared on Transport Network.

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