New government consultation finds Local Authorities are key to a successful EV roll out

The Lords Select Committee on Environment and Climate Change has published its consultation response to the Electric Vehicles Enquiry.  The written evidence from the Urban Transport Group highlights the disparity between urban and rural areas and the challenges each face in making the switch to electric vehicles.

The report says that grid capacity and constraints:

“Pose a significant barrier to the roll-out of EV infrastructure, adding to the delivery cost, introducing delays and preventing sites from being commercially viable. There is overall a need to move towards a more place-based approach to managing grid capacity and investment. There is an opportunity for local and city region authorities to encourage and facilitate this collaboration between transport and energy stakeholders.”

The findings go onto say that for “rural locations with significant grid capacity concerns and outdated infrastructure, battery energy storage systems are also likely to be the most cost-effective option, compared to direct grid upgrades.”

The document goes on to highlight the role Local Authorities could play in producing local and regional approaches to the issue.  It cites North Yorkshire Council as an example as it has:

“Adopted a new EV strategy aiming to tackle rural charging limitations. Under the new strategy, they are planning to install 150 EV chargepoints across the county, alongside battery energy storage units. In order to fund the charging infrastructure, £2.2m has already been secured from the national Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme, topped up with £1.2m capital funding to extend the pilot scheme.”  The findings suggest that “whilst a positive step, it is unlikely to provide anywhere near the necessary charging capacity for such a large area, highlighting the need for further central policy and financial help beyond one-off funding pots.”

Access and affordability also feature heavily in the report, saying:

“There are considerable differences in the services available to rural and urban/suburban communities when it comes to the availability and affordability, particularly in EV charging. Many rural communities at the same time are often described as 'charging deserts'. Rural areas are currently considerably underserved by EV charging infrastructure, as the public infrastructure is currently based around urban areas, motorways.”

It attributes this to the lack of data:

“Rural challenges, impact on the grid and usage patterns as well as demand are not well understood due to lack of monitoring and data. This is in a sense a 'chicken and egg' situation - due to lack of reliable infrastructure, take up of EVs is lower, which continues to make the business case for infrastructure development less viable.”

Furthermore, the findings show that this lack of data and poor infrastructure is:

“Likely to be impacting many rural economies, as tourists who do own EVs may avoid visiting areas without enough available chargers.”

The report concludes that the government must pay specific attention to rural communities, as a one-size-fits-all approach will not work:

“Because public transport often is not as frequent or reliable as it is in towns and cities, rural households are more likely to rely on cars to access amenities and services. They are likely to be more directly impacted by the upcoming phase out targets, and therefore require particular attention and planning...Local Transport Authorities are playing a key role in advancing the UK wide transport decarbonisation efforts as well as the 2030 phase of target.”

You can read the report in full here.


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