The UK government has unveiled an ambitious plan to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across the nation.
Spearheaded by the Department for Transport (DfT), this initiative is marked by the introduction of a substantial grant scheme, alongside a public consultation aimed at streamlining the installation process for charge points.
Under the newly announced grant, entities can receive up to 75% funding towards the cost of purchasing and installing EV charge points, with a cap of £2,500 per socket, a significant increase from the previous maximum of £350. This financial boost is accessible via the Workplace Charging Scheme, targeting state-funded educational institutions including schools, colleges, nurseries, and academies. The scheme is designed not only to enhance charging facilities for staff and visitors but also to empower schools to potentially generate income by offering charge point access to the broader public.
The consultation launched alongside the grant proposes pivotal regulatory changes, notably allowing EV charge point operators to conduct street works under a permit system rather than the traditional licensing route. This shift promises a quicker, cost-effective path to deployment, with permits obtainable in days as opposed to the months typically required for licenses, thereby expediting the rollout of charging infrastructure for EV users.
Complementing these measures, the government has also released a good practice guide to foster uniformity in the processing of license applications across various jurisdictions. Anthony Browne, the Minister for Technology and Decarbonisation, highlighted the government’s commitment to facilitating a smooth transition to EVs, underscoring the over £2 billion already invested towards this end.
In a move to further support the green transition within the education sector, the DfT’s grant extends to state-funded educational facilities with dedicated off-street parking, with an application process available online. Moreover, independent schools have the opportunity to seek funding through both the Workplace Charging Scheme and the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure grant for fleets.
Echoing the sentiment of integrating sustainability into the public sector, Baroness Barran, Minister for the School System and Student Finance, emphasized the grant’s role in propelling schools towards a greener future. This initiative aligns with broader governmental efforts to enhance the sustainability of educational establishments as part of the overarching strategy to achieve net zero emissions.
Additionally, the government’s commitment to expanding EV infrastructure is evident in the allocation of £381 million through the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund to local authorities. The initial disbursement of £14.2 million to five local authorities in England will underpin the development of critical EV charging infrastructure, with further funding announcements anticipated.
The Energy Saving Trust praised the allocation of funds to innovative projects that promise to significantly increase the availability of charging points across England, highlighting the role of this investment in promoting EV adoption and improving air quality.
To support the efficient implementation of charging infrastructure projects, the government is also focusing on capacity building within local authorities. This includes the recruitment of nearly 100 dedicated EV officers and the launch of an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (EVI) training course aimed at equipping local government officials with the necessary skills for successful project delivery.
Mark Constable, Chair of Recharge UK, lauded the proposed regulatory changes, noting their potential to facilitate more rapid and cost-efficient charging infrastructure deployment, including innovative solutions such as cross-pavement charging.