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Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Volume 717: debated on Thursday 30 June 2022

Today, Newcastle-under-Lyme submits its business case for our £23.6 million town deal, which will be granted through the towns fund. Given his answer, I know that the Secretary of State will welcome the transport projects that we have in place, including the new circular bus route and most importantly, in light of what he has just said, the 40 electric vehicle charging points in the town centre, which will support 375 journeys to work each day by electric vehicles. Will the Secretary of State welcome those measures in our town deal, and will he come up to Newcastle to see the projects for himself?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that he has done in winning that funding. He mentions the important work that will happen with 40 new electric chargers in his patch. It is worth pointing out that this country now has more rapid chargers per mile of road than any other European country.

The Government have recently cut the plug-in grant, and the UK is now the only major European country without any incentive in place to switch to electric vehicles. How will this help us end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and become net zero by 2050?

Just to correct the record: that is not true. We still have the grant for vans, for taxis and for other vehicles. The reality is that when the grant, which is a direct payment to people buying their cars, was first brought in, it was envisaged that, by 2020, about 5% of cars would be electric. In fact, we have reached 20% in roughly that time, so that is clearly working. It is better to put the £2.5 billion into the investment of the infrastructure—the rapid charging—particularly given the price of electric cars and the fact that second-hand cars have started to come on to the market. This country is doing very well with electric cars. It is time that the Opposition recognised that fact, with one in five cars now electric.

A reliable charging network is vital to give motorists the peace of mind that they will be able to charge their car wherever they are in the country. We will need up to 480,000 public charging points by 2030. However, the Government have set themselves no target on the roll-out. The electric vehicle infrastructure strategy simply contains an expectation of at least 300,000 charging points. The Government are pinning responsibility solely on local councils and providing no national co-ordination. Placing the entire burden on our already overstretched local authorities means that we will be woefully unprepared for 2030. When will the Transport Secretary finally do something useful and set a national charging points target and give motorists the confidence they need to make the transition to electric?

I do not know whether the hon. Lady has, like me, been driving an electric car for the past three years, but in that period of time I have noticed that the number of chargers available publicly has gone up a great deal. In fact, it has doubled since I have been Secretary of State. We have also said that by 2030, in just seven and a half years’ time, we will increase that 10 times to 300,000 public chargers. It is also the case that the majority of people charge their vehicles on driveways or off-street parking at home—about 70% of the total. Our entire emphasis, through the levy fund on local authorities, is to enable people without off-street parking to park on the street. That fund is delivering great work. She underestimates how much progress this country is making.