Local authorities falling behind on EV charging ambitions, new report warns

Many local authorities are failing to move out of the slow lane when it comes to an electric vehicle (EV) charge point deployment, potentially putting the UK’s net zero goals at risk, a new report has warned.

According to the latest research from EV charge point operator Liberty Charge, titled Transforming the Delivery of Local Authorities On-Street EV Charging, Only 14 per cent of local authorities in the UK have dedicated resources for implementing EV infrastructure, and a lack of funding and guidance from central government means they can only allocate an average of 15 hours per week to EV projects.

The new study, released today, shows local strategies are falling behind government ambitions with only 10 per cent of the 300,000 charge points the government wants to see installed currently in place. Nine out of 10 households are still being more than a five-minute walk from their nearest charge point, according to the new analysis.

In addition, the research found that around 75 per cent of interviewed local authorities quoted budgetary issues as a barrier to wider EV infrastructure adoption. A further 59 per cent pointed to a lack of guidance from central government as to where charge points should be located being a key reason why they are struggling to install chargers at the rate required to meet national charge point goals.

Liberty Charge called the findings of its report “particularly disappointing” in light of the government’s ‘Leveling Up’ agenda, which seeks to drive regional development across the UK. Previous studies have shown that EV charge points are more likely to be installed in more affluent regions, hampering the adoption of zero emission vehicles in many parts of the country.

The new research also found that one in seven drivers admit they would not switch to driving an EV until convenient infrastructure is in place. Around 11 million households currently have no access to off-street parking, meaning that if they switch to an EV they would be reliant on pubvlic or workplace charging infrastructure.

According to Liberty Charge, almost 70 per cent of local authorities believe government spending should be redirected to improve accessibility to chargepoints in economically deprived or rural areas.

In addition, 77 per cent of respondents to the survey agreed that investment from central government should be focused on ensuring every household, regardless of postcode has access to a nearby charge point.

Neil Isaacson, CEO of Liberty Charge, said the report highlights a number of concerns about the pace of the EV charge point roll out, including the lack of support for local authorities.

“We work very closely with many local bodies and in truth, the rollout of EV charge points is a brand new concept to many,” he said. “We cannot just expect they all have the relevant experience and knowledge of how these networks work, nor can we just leave them to figure it out.

“There needs to be a cohesive strategy from the government as to how we tackle the challenges of resourcing and having just 15 hours a week to dedicate to the issue is not enough to create a sufficient network for all drivers begin making the switch.”

In March, the government assigned £50m to local authorities to support EV infrastructure programmes. However, Liberty Charge said the funding was not sufficient for the long-term and would only enable the recruitment of one person for each local authority for two years.

The Department for Transport was considering a request for comment at the time of going to press.

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