Shapps flags up Wigan's electric car charging point shortage
Wigan Council has been contacted by the Transport Secretary urging the borough to play eco-catch-up after discovering that it only has a third the number of electric car chargers compared to the national average.
Grant Shapps urged the local authority take ful advantage of support and funding to increase the number of charging points and so improve air quality.
The town hall has certainly embraced many policies aimed at carbon reduction, not the least its introduction of improved walkways and cycleways around the area.
But it and other organisations have struggled to keep up with the UK momentum for having more charging points.
Earlier this year Mark Tilley, Wigan Council’s assistant director for infrastructure, said that previous Government funding regimes through the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) had struggled to support Wigan’s ambition, but was hopeful that a revised Government funding regime would resolved this.
The authority’s reply today made no mention of funding shortages, with the focus very much on increasing the number of charging points.
But it has previously been pointed out that there are practicalities sometimes militating against a big roll-out, not least the large number of terraced homes on narrow streets which would make for difficulties in charging up.
And electric vehicles remain more expensive than petrol and diesel-driven ones - something else to consider when Wigan is an area where incomes are lower than the national average.
But campaigners say the cost of the cars will only come down if they are bought in larger numbers. And they will only be bought in larger numbers when there are plenty of places around at which the battery can be booted up.
Mr Shapps wrote to Wigan Council leader David Molyneux to say: “Wigan has comparatively low charge point numbers per head of population.
“DfT statistics from July show Wigan has 12.7 public chargepoints per 100,000 head of population, against a UK average of 36.3.
“Ensuring a fair, equitable transition to zero emission vehicles is critical for every part of the UK and I am, therefore, writing to you to ask again that you take advantage of the support and funding available. This will not only improve electric vehicle take up in Wigan, but will also improve air quality and provide other environmental benefits.
“The Government’s On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme has a £20m budget for 2021/22. The scheme is available to all UK local authorities to fund 75 per cent of the capital costs of installing residential EV charge points.”
Coun Molyneux acknowledged more needed to be done, expressed hope that there would now be an acceleration in the roll-out and said that Wiganers could help decide where the best locations for further charging points should be.
He said: “Making the switch to an electric vehicle not only creates significant environmental benefits by reducing CO2 emissions, but allows the vehicle owner to save money on fuel costs. However, we understand that certainty over charging availability can be a major constraint to uptake and we are working hard to resolve this.
“Wigan currently has 18 publicly available EV charging points with 53 connectors. The delivery and operation of Greater Manchester’s publicly funded Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure is co-ordinated by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and TfGM own and operate 20 charge points at nine locations within Wigan on the Be.EV network.
“The Council have recently adopted the Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy which provides a clear vision, objectives and strategic principles to inform a programme of works for the deployment of public charging infrastructure across the city region. The ambition is to have 3000 publicly available electric vehicle charge points across Greater Manchester by 2025.
“Working alongside other Greater Manchester authorities and TfGM, we are committed to expanding the public network even further and as part of a collaborative bid we will be applying for grant funding from OZEV to expand the Be.EV network in Wigan and across Greater Manchester.
“Residents are invited to help us to decide where to put new chargers using the map available at https://electrictravel.tfgm.com/greater-manchesters-ev-strategy/”
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