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Charge point accessibility should be a government priority

Paul Routledge explains why it's so important for the UK government to accelerate access to electric vehicle charging

It seems that every week there is a new national news story extolling the virtues of electric vehicles (EVs): they are better for the planet, can save customers money in the long-term, and now, after growing public pressure, the government is incentivising their use. 

One such recent announcement has been the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) zone in London, a move which is not without justification. In London alone there are 9,400 premature deaths a year due to poor air quality—the highest percentage of these occur in outer London, with every borough exceeding the safe limit for toxic air particles—according to the World Health Organisation.

The UK alone has seven clean air zones

London is also a key contributor to the UK’s CO2 emissions, which presently exceed over 505 million tonnes annually. By 2050, the government has set the target of getting its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. Transitioning drivers in London away from internal combustion engines (ICEs) and towards EVs will play a pivotal role in achieving this goal.  However, the government’s plan to motivate Londoners to switch to EVs by adding a fine for those who don’t omits a key piece to the puzzle. EVs naturally require a charging point and there is a huge disparity between boroughs in accessibility to these. 

Presently, there are more charging points within the ULEZ zone than outside of it, and with outer London boroughs such as Havering and Hillingdon—which have fewer than eight chargers per 100,000 people—t’s hard to see how people will be able to make the switch to EVs. Before we can expect a deterrent like the ULEZ fines to achieve results, we must develop the necessary EV charging infrastructure to enable the switch to EVs. 

EV charging London
One-third of all UK charge points are located in London

Currently, London has nearly 13,000 charging points, making up a third of all charging points in the UK. The government needs to make advancing accessibility to EV charging points across the whole of the UK a top priority. Getting from A to B doesn’t have to come at such a grave cost to ourselves and our planet; let’s make it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing. 

It is, however, crucial that we do not forget about the rest of the UK. Both the climate crisis and the state of the UK’s public health are deteriorating at a rapid rate, and empowering London alone will not have sufficient impact. After all, it is not just Londoners who need to be liberated from toxic air and it is not exclusively their cars which are to blame for our emissions. Public chargers need to be installed across the whole of the country, accessible in neighbourhoods, fuel stations, hotels, schools, and town centres. 

If the government is to meet its 2050 target, change needs to happen fast. People need to be given the right tools in order to incentivise EV adoption, negating charge anxiety and empowering the nation to adopt a greener, more efficient future. 

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Paul Routledge is Regional Director UK & Ireland at EV charging solutions provider Charge Amps

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