Electric charging points look set to be a mandatory feature on many new housing developments under the government’s blueprint for encouraging the mass switch from combustion engine vehicles.

In its “Road to Zero” paper, published this morning (9 July), the Department for Transport sets out its next steps for implementing the government’s pledge to phase out the sale of diesel and petrol cars, vans and motorcycles by 2040. The target, which was announced in the government’s air pollution strategy last summer, applies to all road transport except for heavy good vehicles.

The paper includes a plan to consult “as soon as possible” on introducing a requirement “where appropriate” for charge point infrastructure when new dwellings are built in England.

The consultation will consider how this new mandate can be achieved in the “most cost-effective way” and the government’s wider objectives to boost housing supply.

In built up areas where off-street parking is not available, the government says it wants all new street light posts to include charge points. The paper says an ongoing review of private leaseholds will be used to ensure that those living in flats, who rely on communal parking facilities, are able to access a charge point for their electric vehicles (EVs).

The government says it will also consult on amending building regulations to require charging provision in new non-residential buildings, such as offices and supermarkets.

The paper says the government is “confident” that existing electricity market mechanisms will be able to meet additional electricity demand from EVs.

Further evidence will be gathered by the government of any potential key network connection infrastructure barriers, which may prevent further uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, as part of an upcoming call for evidence on last mile deliveries.

The document says it will also support a commitment by Highways England to ensure a charge point every 20 miles along the strategic road network by 2020.  The trunk road agency will run a pilot project to increase electrical capacity at a motorway service area.

Energy UK’s chief executive Lawrence Slade welcomed the strategy but expressed disappointment that the government had not set a more ambitious timescale for phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

He said: “We – and many others right across industry and beyond – have made it clear that we are ready to go faster than the current 2040 deadline and seize the opportunity to help meet our emissions reduction targets and cut harmful air pollution in our towns and cities.

“In addition to the benefits of becoming a world leader in the technologies involved, EVs’ ability to store and supply electricity could have a transformative effect on the energy system itself.

“With rapidly improving vehicle performance and falling costs, it is essential that the infrastructure and regulation keep pace – so we welcome the government’s support for enabling this. Put all this in place with measures that give choice to customers whilst enabling smart ways to manage demand on the grid and the EV roll out could happen much quicker than expected.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee, expressed concern about the delay in the publication of the “Road to Zero” strategy, which was originally due to have been published in March.

She said: “We have been waiting for months for ministers to resolve their differences and agree the detail of this ‘Road to Zero’ strategy. We are currently off-track on meeting our legally-binding carbon reduction targets. Progress has stalled in reducing our carbon emissions. The government needs to take urgent action and deliver on the aspirations in this strategy.

“Following what we heard from the minister in our current inquiry into electric vehicles, we will be studying the small print carefully to check that zero means zero and the government can get back on track towards meeting our climate change targets on emissions.”

David Smith, chief executive of Energy Networks Association, welcomed the strategy’s recognition of the important role that energy networks will play in delivering the government’s clean transport goals.

Smith, who is also a member of the government’s electric vehicle energy taskforce, said: “Under the regulatory system, network operators have been pioneering a wide range of different low carbon transportation projects. They are ready to connect the charging points and refuelling stations that will give consumers and businesses a choice of different options for their transport.

“It is important that networks have visibility of where and when new infrastructure is needed, so they can use the latest technology available and access the data needed to do that. That’s vital to join the whole system up, use the existing grid more effectively and keep costs down for our customers to deliver a smarter, cleaner and more efficient energy system.”

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