DfT unveils EV roll-out strategy for England

The Department for Transport (DfT) has unveiled a national strategy for expanding electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in England with the target of reaching at least 300,000 public chargepoints by 2030.

Officials confirmed that the plan is to give councils a statutory responsibility to develop local charging infrastructure strategies, which would be integrated with Local Transport Plans, in conjunction with Local Area Energy Mapping and Planning (LAEMP).

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From next year, the DfT 'will look to take pre-emptive powers to ensure there is a clear statutory obligation to develop local charging infrastructure strategies and oversee their delivery, subject to consultation'.

The Government  also said it will 'be monitoring the level of engagement and planning taking place at the local government level' and will publish information on which local highway authorities have produced strategies for chargepoint provision.

A £500m spending package across 2022-2025 has been allocated to support councils with the local roll-out, most of this (£450m) will be delivered through the Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) fund 'to facilitate the roll-out of larger-scale chargepoint infrastructure projects, including local rapid hubs and larger on-street schemes'.

The fund will kick off this spring with a £10m pilot project designed to help 'develop new commercial models and provide greater clarity on the best balance, for the consumer and the energy system, between low power and high power charging'.

The LEVI Fund includes up to £50m to fund staff and the supporting knowledge and tools to help councils work out plans.

The remaining £50m is set to be delivered through grant funding under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, which has delivered 2,038 chargepoints to date, a further 4,539 were planned for 2021-22.

Local planning is also set for reform with the Government pledging that this summer it will consider amendments to the Transport Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) relating to chargepoints, to make local approaches to chargepoint planning and delivery more consistent and streamlined.

'We would like to explore options for introducing a unified consent process for installing EV chargepoints, including consideration of a streamlined process for obtaining both the planning permission consent and the highways consent for the traffic management works at the same time,' the strategy document states.

On the strategic road network, the plan is centred around the £950m Rapid Charging Fund.

Despite this fund being first announced in 2021, and called 'existing' by DfT press officers, the EV strategy document revealed officials will only start to consult on the design of the fund around the end of this year leading into spring 2023.

While pathfinder projects could begin this winter, the main fund is not expected to be launched until next year.

'This fund will support the rollout of at least 6,000 high powered chargepoints across England’s motorways and major A-roads by 2035, by enabling electricity network infrastructure to be installed ahead of chargepoint demand. We will ensure that every motorway service area has at least six rapid chargers by the end of 2023, with some having more than 12,' the document said.

The cash does not appear to be new money but part of the £2.5bn dedicated to the EV transition, £1.6bn of which is to support charging infrastructure, first announced in 2020.

This summer, the DfT pledged to introduce 'new legislation to improve people’s experience when using public chargepoints' mandating that operators provide real-time data about chargepoints, ensuring that consumers can compare prices and seamlessly pay for their charging using contactless cards.

These plans will also require a 99% reliability rate at rapid chargepoints.

Given the timescale - legislation will be introduced in spring 2022 and come into effect in summer 2022 - it is likely to be secondary legislation to regulate the industry.

The government will also support fleet electrification by introducing payment roaming across the public chargepoint network.

Other key announcements:

  • Summer 2022: Building regulations requiring new homes and non-residential buildings to include chargepoints come into force.
  • Summer 2022: Consider amendments to the Transport Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) relating to chargepoints, to make local approaches to chargepoint planning and delivery more consistent and streamlined.
  • Improve accessibility at public chargepoints for disabled users. We will work in partnership with Motability and have commissioned the British Standards Institute (BSI) to develop accessible charging standards
  • Mandate that, from June 2022, private chargepoints sold in GB must be smart and meet minimum device-level requirements.
  • Maximise the opportunities for flexibility from EVs while protecting the electricity grid and consumers, publishing a joint GovernmentOfgem Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: 'We are now focused on developing a robust, fair and scalable charging network covering the entire country. Our plans will get more chargepoints in the ground, quicker. Not everyone has access to off-street parking, so we will focus efforts on installing more on-street chargepoints, providing convenient and affordable charging, ideally on the street where you live. You’ll see chargers integrated into lamp posts and next to parking bays, for example.

'We expect around 300,000 public chargers as a minimum by 2030. Our goal is to ensure these chargepoints are installed ahead of demand, inspiring confidence in drivers who have not yet made the switch.

'Government’s role is to set the right foundations for an equitable nationwide charging roll-out, removing barriers along the way. That means tackling some of the key bugbears of current EV drivers, such as providing bankcard access or equivalent at chargers alongside phone payments, and setting standards on price transparency, reliability and open data.'

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