Midlothian leading the way on electric vehicle charging rollout
Midlothian is leading the way on the national rollout of electric vehicle charging points, figures reveal.
But thinktank the Policy Exchange says there are still charging "blackspots" in regions across the UK, adding the speed of installations needs to increase to meet growing demand.
There were 42 public charging points in Midlothian at the start of January, according to figures from the Department for Transport.
That is a rate of 45 per 100,000 people, higher than the UK average of 31.
Since October 2019 – when figures began at a local authority level – Midlothian has seen five charging devices added to its supply.
Meanwhile, across the UK, an additional 5,700 devices were made available over the same period, taking the total number up to 20,800 at the start of this year.
There were 347 electric vehicles licensed to addresses in Midlothian at the end of September 2020, according to latest Department for Transport data – up by 43 per cent from 242 in September 2019.
In a bid to further boost numbers, transport minister Grant Shapps announced an extra £20 million was to be made available for local authorities.
However, a report by the Policy Exchange says the speed of the rollout needs to increase from the current rate to meet the planned ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2030. It also found a gap in coverage of the charging points across the UK, claiming the Government's funding scheme for local authorities had not been evenly distributed.
In a foreword to the report, Conservative MP Simon Clarke said: "Some areas have naturally built up impressive coverage, such as central London, but vast swathes of the country have not.
"As with the enduring problems of broadband rollout which leave blackspots even today, the market misses out large parts of the UK, especially smaller towns and rural areas."
The Department for Transport acknowledged the "uneven" distribution of devices across the UK in a report accompanying the latest figures, which were produced from the platform Zap-Map covering 95 per cent of publicly accessible charging-points.
Mr Shapps said the extra £20 million cash for local authorities will see the doubling of 4,000 on-street electric vehicle charging points already funded by the Government.
He said: "With a world-leading charging network, we're making it easier for people to switch to electric vehicles, creating healthier neighbourhoods and cleaning up our air as we build back greener."
The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, welcomed the support, but said "longer term resourcing" was needed.
Transport spokesman David Renard said: "Councils are working hard to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in their areas but are doing so against competing demands on their time and local circumstances will vary."
Electric cars have surged in popularity with manufacturers currently supplying a record number.
In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought forward the ban on petrol car sales from 2040 to 2030 as part of a "green industrial revolution" to tackle climate change.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "This Government has committed £1.3 billion to rolling out charging infrastructure, and we would urge councils to use the funding we have made available to ensure their residents can access charge points.
"We have already supported the installation of more than 150,000 residential and almost 21,000 public charge points, and with further funding announced last week, even more people are set to benefit from better charge point access."