UK plans further investment in electric infrastructure while Oxford unveils internal combustion ban

16 October 2017

UK plans further investment in electric infrastructure while Oxford unveils internal combustion ban

16 October 2017

Britain is to spend £1 billion (€1.1 billion) to promote electric and low-emission vehicles and will step up spending on research and innovation, as part of plans to invest a total sum of £2.5 billion (€2.8 billion) on meeting its climate change targets.

The UK government's Clean Growth Strategy, which details government spending between 2015 and 2021, includes heavy investment in science, research and innovation to help reduce CO2 emissions. It also includes provision to support the uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles, including helping drivers to overcome the upfront cost of an electric vehicle (EV). No details on this scheme are mentioned.

In July, the government announced that it was following France in banning the sale of petrol and diesel only vehicles by 2040, as part of plans to clean up air quality in the country. Data in the report shows that by the end of 2016 Britain was more than half way to meeting the target, having cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42% compared with 1990 levels. However, with many of the cheaper and easier emission reductions completed, the government said it would ‘not be easy’ to meet its targets.

The report states that the government aims to ‘develop one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world by investing an additional £80 million (€90 million), alongside £15 million (€16.9 million) from Highways England, to support charging infrastructure deployment. It also states that the government will be: ‘providing £50 million (€56.2 million) for the Plug-in Taxi programme, which gives taxi drivers up to £7,500 (€8,400) off the purchase price of a new ULEV taxi, alongside £14 million (€15.7 million) to support 10 local areas to deliver dedicated charge points for taxis.’ This could be in addition to the scrappage scheme which the London Electric Vehicle Company (formally the London Taxi Company) is offering black cab drivers to trade in their more polluting vehicles for zero-emission alternatives.

Meanwhile, Oxford will become the first city in the UK to ban petrol and diesel vehicles, following similar plans in Paris, Stuttgart, Cologne and Munich. The city’s university has unveiled its plans for a ‘Zero Emission Zone’ (ZEZ) which will prevent traditionally powered vehicles entering the centre by 2020.

‘All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air’, said city council board member John Tanner. ‘Everyone needs to do their bit – from national government and local authorities to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.’

Oxford will also introduce reduced parking fees for electric vehicles and electric-taxi ranks.

In the first stage of its plans, taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses which are non zero-emission, will be banned from six streets in the city centre. The zone will be gradually widened to include more streets and further vehicle types until 2035 when all emitting vehicles, including lorries, will be banned.

The latest monitoring data has found that air pollution appears to have plateaued above the legal limits in some parts of the city. Between 2011 and 2013, average Nitrogen Oxide (NO2) levels across the city centre fell by 18.9%, but between 2014 and 2016 they fell by just 3.9%.

London is rolling out an ‘ultra-low emission zone,’ which will see the highest polluting vehicles pay daily charges to enter the city centre starting in 2020.