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Home - News - A Q&A with Mer UK’s Managing Director Anthony Hinde on the UK’s public charging infrastructure

A Q&A with Mer UK’s Managing Director Anthony Hinde on the UK’s public charging infrastructure

We ask Anthony about the current state of charging in the UK, and what the government's recent EV charging plans mean for the country's public charging infrastructure.

4. Can the UK realistically be expected to meet 2030 targets without local authorities doing more to expand EV charging infrastructure provision?

No, local authorities must play their part. And the government’s new funding package comes amid realisation of the urgency to do it quickly. There is money available from the government and councils should be claiming it right now – but also making sure that the tender process is rigorous, and that the installations are done right the first time.

I see no reason why we can’t achieve this target. We have eight years to go. If you look at the growth in EV charging over the last two years, I don’t think this is an insurmountable challenge.

5. Given the current situation, should the UK government impose a statutory duty on local authorities to plan and deliver sufficient EV infrastructure?

This scenario is currently being considered by policymakers as part of a regulatory review of the UK’s zero-emission vehicles landscape, by the ‘Office for Zero Emission Vehicles’ (OZEV). This review could introduce a raft of new legislation, and more regulatory power to support EV uptake.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer here – rather that there are potentially good and bad outcomes from mandating policy. Imposing a statutory duty would no doubt ensure uptake of EVs, but – conversely – inefficient, poorly-sited, poorly-operated installations might be the result. Making delivery of EV infrastructure mandatory may put pressure on less experienced individuals given responsibility for evaluating tenders. It may panic them into action, exposing the council to inferior proposals and suppliers.

6. If a statutory duty were imposed, what would such a duty look like and how would it work, realistically? And would this ‘stick’ approach be more effective than the current ‘carrot’ of providing EV funding?

At Mer, we are firm believers that the correct EV infrastructure approach should be encouraged by using the carrot rather than the stick – as the stick rarely gives the right solution. The funding carrots are there, but councils need education and clear instruction on which EV installation strategy makes sense, and at what scale and period of time. Rather than thinking: there’s a fund, let’s apply for the money and do what we think is best. There are some councils who do have people who become experts in the field, but this approach is currently too hit and miss. The government’s new funding for planning and implementation training should help to steer councils towards better long-term partnerships and solutions.

7. What other options are available beyond this approach? For example, should a duty be placed on charge point operators themselves, or on energy companies, instead of councils?

EV infrastructure strategy shouldn’t necessarily be steered by commercial EV charger companies. What councils need is advice from a more central, neutral authority.

Councils need to be meticulous in their tendering process – and seek to collaborate with other councils, so they can benefit from scale, rather than working discreetly, in small areas. Councils also need to work with reliable suppliers who are in this business for the long run. There aren’t any licensing or accreditation rules for EV charging installers and operators, so local authorities need to make sure they are dealing with serious companies. The government’s new funding is specifically earmarked for ‘high quality’ charging infrastructure, so this will hopefully help councils choose installers and operators that are both reliable and have longevity.

 

To find out more about installing EV charging, visit our Local Authorities page:

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