No NI councils start to plan for electric vehicles

No councils in Northern Ireland have published electric vehicle (EV) transition plans despite being encouraged to do so by the government, an investigation has found.

Responses to freedom of information requests by the FairCharge campaign shared with the PA news agency found only 28% of local authorities in the UK (three in 10) have released a strategy for supporting the switch to electric motoring.

A further 23% said they are in the process of devising a plan.

London is the region with the highest proportion of councils with a published strategy, at 57%.

Electic vehicle charger

It is followed by the West Midlands (44%), Scotland (38%) and the North West (30%).

At the other end of the scale are Northern Ireland (0%), the East Midlands (10%) and Wales (13%).

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) EV Infrastructure Strategy, released last month, said the government will “transform local on-street charging by putting an obligation on local authorities (subject to consultation) to develop and implement local charging strategies”.

The document added that local leadership is “essential to creating new investment opportunities and inspiring local confidence in EVs”.

In a recent response to a parliamentary question on EVs, minister for energy, clean growth and climate change Greg Hands said the government will “monitor and engage with local authorities as they progress with their strategies”.

FairCharge spokesman Quentin Willson, a former Top Gear presenter, said: “The figures revealed from councils in our freedom of information requests are extremely worrying.

“BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and DfT say that local authorities are best placed to consider local needs.

“This of course is true, but we can see today that without a big role for central government in supporting councils, there is a real chance that much of country will be left behind in terms of public charging infrastructure.

“Councils clearly need to up their game too, but there needs to be direction and oversight from central government.”

EV owners without access to off-road parking at home often rely on public chargepoints installed by councils.

Mr Willson went on: “The figures are so concerning because they mean that many people – such as those without driveways – will be hindered from taking part in the EV revolution.”

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2030.

Plug-in vehicles – which include pure electrics and plug-in hybrids – accounted for more than one in six new cars registered in the UK in 2021.