There is a profound change coming in the way we fuel our vehicles.
Governments around the world have committed to phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles in the coming decades. Electric vehicles are becoming the vehicle of choice for car companies to develop. Established manufacturers have announced launches of more than 100 new battery electric vehicle models by 2024.
However, there are still barriers to the mass adoption of electric cars. The main one is the availability of charging points. There are compelling reasons why councils should be at the forefront of making this transition happen.
We all know the toll that vehicle emissions are taking on our residents’ health. Vehicles contribute 80 per cent of nitrogen oxides at roadside and we need to find a long-term solution to exhaust emissions in order to tackle air pollution, especially in built-up urban areas.
Electric vehicles will also offer benefits for noise pollution. Anyone who has heard electric vehicles starting up will know how quiet their engines are. This will immediately benefit residents who live close to roads.
In the long term, as the freight industry upgrades its engines, it may also allow us to look again at staggering deliveries into the evening and early in the morning. Staggering delivery times across the day and night could have important congestion benefits and if we could use quieter vehicles we would avoid some of the problems currently holding it back.
The transition to electric vehicles is taking place across the world and it is an important opportunity for the UK to demonstrate leadership in a technology that will have a global roll-out. Getting the transition to electric vehicles right is something everyone is seeking to do.
In the UK, we have the chance to develop a model that will benefit our local environments and residents, and has commercial opportunities for local government. After all, councils own a lot of the land that electric charging companies wish to access, such as car parks, roads and pavements. For example, Nottingham has installed charge points at key locations on its park and ride network through a concession arrangement.
In our discussions with the charging industry, one of the practical steps that councils can take is clearly identifying a point of contact with each council at both member and officer level. Navigating what is often perceived as the complex hierarchy within councils can be one of the strongest factors inhibiting charging companies engaging on investment. Making a single point of contact publicly available can be helpful and is a practical step councils can take with little difficulty.
The LGA has been working closely with the Energy Saving Trust to generate more practical guidance to local authorities. In the coming months, we look forward to complementing this work with our own advice on making the case for councils to support electric vehicle charging.