Electric car charging points in garages and driveways get 75% subsidy

image captionThe government believes that electric cars offer a good driving experience and low running costs

The government has announced that it will cover up to 75% of the cost of installing charging points for electric vehicles in garages and driveways.

Drivers with off-street parking who want to install the facility will be expected to cover the remaining 25%.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said ministers were committed to ensuring that the UK was a "world leader in the electric car industry".

Ministers also want councils to install more on-street charging points.

The Department for Transport estimates that it costs about £10,000 to install a power point capable of charging two vehicles at once in a residential street.

Local authorities will therefore be expected to provide about £2,500 towards the cost of installing each new charging point.

'Appropriate level'

A report by the Commons Transport Select Committee in September last year questioned whether government subsidies to encourage people to drive electric cars were a good use of public money.

They had benefited only a "handful of motorists", MPs said, and were being used to help more affluent households with the cost of a second car.

However, during a visit to Sunderland, Mr McLoughlin said: "Plug-in vehicles can help the consumer by offering a good driving experience and low running costs. They can help the environment by cutting pollution.

"And most importantly of all, they can help the British economy by creating skilled manufacturing jobs in a market that is bound to get bigger."

The government estimates that it will cost between about £1,000 and £1,500 for drivers with off-street parking to install charging points in their garages or driveways; it will fund 75% of this cost, up to a maximum contribution of £1,000.

Ministers also want to encourage train operators to install new charging points at railway stations, and have offered the same 75% incentive.

And local authorities wanting to invest in rapid charging points, which cost about £45,000 to install and make it easier for drivers of electric vehicles to undertake longer journeys, will also be able to apply to central government for the same proportion of funding.

'Postcode lottery'

"We believe that 75% is the appropriate level to offer to incentivise vehicle owners and local authorities to invest," a Department for Transport spokesman said.

Business Minister Michael Fallon added: "There are huge business opportunities so we're committed to ensuring the UK leads the way globally for low-carbon vehicles."

Grants to residents for domestic charging points will be available throughout the UK, but the grants for local authorities and train companies apply to England only, since power over these policies is devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For Labour Maria Eagle, shadow transport secretary, said the government was on track to miss their target of 8,500 charging points for electric vehicles by 2013 and "local councils across the country are already struggling after the Government slashed local transport funding".

Mark Rowney, from the left-leaning IPPR think-tank, said: "Doubts over the continued funding of charging point infrastructure had been causing uncertainty in the UK automotive industry.

"Today's government announcement marks a change in strategy from piloting infrastructure installation, which has led to a postcode lottery of support, to the beginnings of a strategically planned national charging infrastructure.

"We still need a cross party consensus for the low carbon automotive industry and for charge point installation on a national scale."

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "We need to see the full details of this latest announcement and evidence that it's been properly costed.

"£11 million spread between 152 highways authorities over two years isn't a huge amount of money. There needs to be a contingency in place should the central funding run out before all applications are dealt with, a contingency which isn't simply that councils pick up the tab."

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