New measures to support electric vehicle drivers from the government’s Plan for Drivers have launched today (5 February 2024), including grants for schools, cash for councils and new proposals to boost chargepoint numbers.

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne, will launch support for greener schools in Nottinghamshire today, with a new grant providing up to 75% of the cost to buy and install chargepoints, up to £2,500 per socket, up from the previous £350. 

Paid for by the Department for Transport, the grant forms part of the Workplace Charging Scheme and is available for state-funded schools, colleges, nurseries and academies to boost the chargepoint facilities for staff and visitors. This could also help schools to generate revenue by making their chargepoints available to the public.

The school’s grant is for state-funded schools and education institutions, which must have dedicated off-street parking facilities – applications can be made online. Independent schools may apply for funding through the Workplace Charging Scheme and the Electric vehicle infrastructure grant for SMEs. 

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The government is also delivering the £381 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund to local authorities across the country. The first capital payments for charging projects have been approved to 3 local authorities from East Sussex to North Yorkshire, and 2 London boroughs, bringing the total funding for these areas to more than £ 14.2 million. The funding will support the installation of thousands of new chargers, ensuring the rollout continues at pace to support drivers in every area of the country.

Through our LEVI capability funding, almost 100 dedicated EV officers have been newly recruited to support chargepoint procurement. To aid local authorities in building a skilled workforce and delivering their charging projects, the government is also launching the electric vehicle infrastructure (EVI) training course for their officers, which will open to all local authorities from mid-March following a successful trial. 

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne, said:

We’re getting on with delivering our Plan for Drivers, and this latest set of measures will mean EV owners everywhere benefit from easier and more convenient access to chargepoints. 

This government has already spent over £ 2 billion to ensure a smooth switch to EVs, and we’re committed to supporting drivers as we transition towards net zero in a proportionate way that doesn’t burden working people.

More and more drivers are making the switch to electric vehicles, with fully electric vehicles accounting for over 16% of the new UK car market in 2023, according to industry statistics. The number of plug-in vehicles in the UK has also risen to over 1.2 million, of which 770,000 are fully battery-electric, meaning more and more drivers are making the switch.

As this number continues to grow, government is investing alongside industry in EV infrastructure to ensure we meet our climate change commitments, while charting the fairest path to net zero which does not unnecessarily burden families.

New laws recently came into force to provide EV drivers with easier and more reliable public charging, mandating that prices across chargepoints are transparent, easy to compare and that a large proportion of new public chargepoints have contactless payment options. This comes as over 53,000 public chargepoints have been installed across the UK, demonstrating the progress that has been made in the switch to electric. 

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Minister for the School System and Student Finance at the Department for Education, Baroness Barran, said: 

This is an exciting opportunity for schools across the UK to become part of an ongoing move towards a greener public sector. Schools engaging with this grant will be supporting the development of green infrastructure, helping to improve their local environments.

Developing a greener education estate is a key element of our sustainability and climate change strategy. The expansion of this grant supports our ambition to improve the sustainability of our schools in the ongoing move towards net zero.

In addition, the government is today launching a consultation to look at ways to speed up chargepoint installation across the country. The proposals would give EV chargepoint operators the right to carry out street works using a permit rather than a licence. 

Permits can be issued much faster, taking days instead of months, and are significantly cheaper to obtain than licences, reducing costs for operators and speeding up the chargepoint rollout for drivers.

While the consultation runs, a new good practice guide has been published by the government to improve consistency in processing licence applications across different areas. 

These are the second package of measures delivered from the government’s Plan for Drivers and follow last month’s announcement of a crackdown on disruptive roadworks and better digital information to boost sat-nav accuracy.

To further deliver on our Plan for Drivers’ commitments, we have published a list of common questions and answers on the transition to EVs, including battery range and chargepoint availability across the country.

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To provide further flexibility to individuals and organisations wishing to install EV charging outlets, we will shortly consult on removing the 2-metre limitation so that wall-mounted outlets and upstands can be installed anywhere within an area lawfully used for off-street parking.

Councillor Neil Clarke MBE, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Nottinghamshire County Council, said:

Through initiatives like the Electric Vehicle Cable Channel Pilot Programme and improving local electric vehicle infrastructure, we’re working hard to help residents without off-street parking, along with road users in Nottinghamshire, to charge their electric vehicles.

We are continuing with our ambition to make Nottinghamshire healthier, more prosperous, and greener. Initiatives like this are a step closer to achieving these ambitions.

As a county, we must do all that we can to protect the environment, and that’s why we welcome this continued government support, which helps us to roll out electric vehicle infrastructure more widely across Nottinghamshire.

These measures come following the UK’s world-leading path to reaching zero emission vehicles by 2035 coming into effect earlier this year. The zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate requires 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold in Great Britain to be zero emission by 2030, providing certainty to consumers and industry – helping speed up the rollout of chargepoints.

The government’s approach to EVs has already attracted record investment in gigafactories and EV manufacturing, including:

  • Nissan’s recent investment of over £3 billion to develop 2 new electric vehicles at their Sunderland plant
  • Tata’s investment of over £4 billion in a new 40 GWh gigafactory
  • BMW’s investment of £600 million to build next-generation MINI EVs in Oxford
  • Ford’s investment of £380 million in Halewood to make electric drive units
  • Stellantis’ £100 million investment in Ellesmere Port for EV van production

Last year, the UK and EU agreed to extend trade rules on electric vehicles, saving manufacturers and consumers up to £4.3 billion in additional costs and providing long-term certainty for industry.

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In addition, the On-street residential chargepoint scheme (ORCS) is open to all UK local authorities. 

Grants are also available to help businesses make the transition through the government’s Workplace charging scheme (WCS), as well as people in flats and rented accommodation through the Electric vehicle chargepoint grant.