Just five councils across England have taken advantage of a government backed scheme for funding electric car charge points, ministers have revealed.
Jesse Norman and Claire Perry, respectively ministers for transport and climate change, have written to local authorities urging them to take advantage of the On-Street Residential Charge point Scheme, which was launched in 2016.
The Department for Transport (DfT) scheme offers up to 75 per cent of the cost of procuring and installing charge points. Around £4.5 million is left unclaimed from the scheme which the DfT claims could fund thousands of charge points.
The scheme is designed to provide charging facilities for the approximately one-third of homes that lack off-street parking, which makes overnight charging ‘extremely difficult’.
Perry and Norman, who is a former junior energy minister, have written to council leaders urging them to take up the option.
Norman said: “Millions of homes in the UK do not have off-street parking, so this funding is important to help local councils ensure that all their residents can take advantage of this revolution.
“Charge points can be anything from new points popping up on streets to adapting existing lampposts to make the best use of space.”
Responding to the criticism, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said that the scheme was inadequately funded and that councils faced many other budgetary pressures following the withdrawal of government support.
“They (councils) cannot take on the role of replacing petrol stations. Any new responsibilities to ensure there is sufficient electric car charging infrastructure must be matched with adequate funding. Long term this must be a role for the private sector.
“It is worth noting that only £1.5 million was made available in 2016 for the current financial year, with a further £4.5 million announced late last year in the November budget of 2017 until 2020.
“We support the Government’s focus on environmentally friendly travel and are keen to see more detail on a long-term properly funded plan.”
Matthew Trevaskis, head of electric vehicles at the Renewable Energy Association said that councils also needed to make use of their planning powers to encourage the deployment of charge points.
“Local authorities have a key role to play in supporting uptake and action should be taken to ensure that all funding for this sector is used. On-street charging, which this funding targets, is also just one portion of the larger picture.
“Local authorities need to be thinking about a rapid expansion of charging facilities at workplaces, at supermarkets, along major roadways and in other retail spaces to offer other alternatives for those without off-street parking.
“Planning legislation including the ‘Merton Rule’ gives them the capability to introduce building standards that go beyond central government requirements, for example compelling developers to create buildings with onsite solar and EV charge points.”