ELECTRIC VEHICLES: 23 ways Somerset councils are going to promote
Zero emission zones, more charging points and financial incentives could all be on the cards as Somerset’s councils try to drive up electric vehicle usage across the county.
With petrol and diesel gradually being phased out ahead of government bans in the early-2030s, the councils have come up with a series of practical steps designed to incentivise residents and businesses to go electric.
Here are 23 actions which Somerset’s councils will be taking to make Somerset’s transport greener going forward:
- Replace its current vehicle fleet: all five councils (and the national park authority) will undertake a review of their existing vehicles, with a view to switching as many as possible from fossil fuels to electric
- More charging points at council depots: to make the fleet review easier to implement, more charging points will be provided at depots, such as County Hall in Taunton and the new school buses depot being built in Bridgwater
- Install charging points at council offices: charging points for both staff and public use will be installed at council offices in Bridgwater, Dulverton, Shepton Mallet, Taunton, Williton and Yeovil
- Lobby to bring forward the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles: the authorities have agreed to push the government to ban new petrol and diesel car sales before 2030, bringing forward the current ban date
- Lobby the government to make electric vehicles more obtainable: the authorities will push for incentives to help people buy electric cars, as well as reform or replacement of road tax and an end to the fuel duty freeze
- Explore local incentives to make people buy electric vehicles: these could include “try an EV” schemes, like the ones currently being offered in Milton Keynes, or creating a zero emission zone in urban areas, as has been implemented in London and Oxford
- Encourage research and development into new technology: this could include partnerships with firms within the Gravity site near Bridgwater or the new digital innovation centre being delivered on the Firepool site in Taunton
- Change parking regulations for new development: councils can put planning policies in place, insisting that all parking spaces provided within new housing developments come with an electric vehicle charging point – and similar standards can be put in place for non-residential builds as well
- Provide grants for installing charging points in existing homes: up to £350 per household could be provided to install new charging points in older properties to encourage electric vehicle uptake
- Promote home charging schemes: schemes like Zap-Home allow people to charge their electric cars from residential charging points (with the vehicle owner paying the cost of the charge)
- Explore “cable covers” in less busy areas: for households which don’t have off-street parking, these covers could allow people to run cables across streets to charge vehicles without disrupting traffic or harming pedestrians
- Bid for OLEV funding for on-street charging points: the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) can provide up to £100,000 per local authority to part-fund on-street charging points with a private partner – with Bridgwater, Chard, Glastonbury, Minehead, Street, Taunton and Yeovil all being considered as possible locations
- Adopt new design standards for on-street chargers: clear standards for the size and shape of on-street charging points can be put in place, ensuring that pavement space is not compromised
- Adopt new workspace parking standards: new planning policies can be implemented to ensure any new employment facility comes with sufficient space and charging provision for electric vehicles
- Give incentives for existing workplaces: OLEV grants can significantly reduce the cost of existing businesses installing new charging points in their car parks to encourage greener commuting
- Encourage private sector fleet reviews: free reviews can be carried out by the Energy Saving Trust, helping private companies make cost-effective decisions on how to reduce their vehicle emissions
- Encourage shared work charging schemes such as Zap-Work: around one in three (30 per cent) of businesses are willing to allow private individuals charge their vehicles using their facilities, reducing the pressure on chargers in public car parks and other communal areas
- Create charging hubs at Taunton’s park and ride sites: in line with Somerset West and Taunton’s 2040 Vision, the Gateway and Silk Mills sites could become electric vehicle charging pubs, reducing town centre congestion and encouraging more use of the park and ride service
- Install charging points in council car parks: Mendip and South Somerset have already made strides towards doing this, with different brands or speeds of charger being implemented across nearly 30 locations
- Encourage partners to deliver charging hubs at key amenities: these include railway stations and supermarkets, where the short but regular visits lend themselves naturally to rapid charging
- Explore “electric vehicle tourism” opportunities: working with partners like the National Trust, English Heritage and Clarks Village, councils can use the growing charging network to entice more visitors to Somerset’s big attractions all year round
- Explore creating “mobility hubs”: at some charging locations, additional green travel measures may be implemented, such as car clubs, bike hire schemes and solar panels for charging stations
- Work with the private sector to plug charging gaps: where on-route provision is lacking in certain areas – such as Burnham-on-Sea, Minehead and Wells – ultra-rapid chargers can be installed (albeit at a high cost) to incentivise residents and visitors alike
Mike O’Dowd-Jones, the county council’s strategic manager for highways and transport, said: “Transport is responsible for 46 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions in Somerset, and is the now the largest source of emissions nationally.
“Electric vehicles will have a significant role to play in tackling emissions from transport, especially for longer-distance trips and in more rural areas less well-served by public transport.
“The majority of carbon emissions from transport come from longer distance trips, with over 80 per cent of emissions from car commuting in Somerset from trips of 10km (6.25 miles) or more.
“Tackling these longer distance trips offers the greatest potential for carbon reduction.”
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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