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Reduction in number of electric vehicles in West Berkshire

Council questioning figures

Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook

Concerns over electric car charge points in Newbury

THE number of electric vehicles in West Berkshire has fallen by almost half in the past two years.

There were 1,009 registered in the district at the end of 2018, according to the Department for Transport, down from 1,978 at the end of 2016.

In every other local authority in Berkshire, the number of electric vehicles has been increasing each quarter, apart from in West Berkshire.

But the district council’s portfolio holder for transport has described the statistics as “simply unbelievable” and is challenging the numbers with the Department for Transport,

By 2035 at the latest, all new cars and vans should be electric, according to the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government.

The committee’s May 2 report said charging infrastructure must be strengthened, as electric vehicles are key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also improving air quality.

Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Wash Common) said: “I’m hoping the fall in electric vehicle sales is a blip or anomaly in the numbers, but we now need to keep an eye on this and search for why, if the trend continues.

“Latest generation electric vehicles are a good thing, and even better if charged up from clean energy sources.

“So new charging points would work best if they derive energy from, say solar or hydro.”

CO2 emissions from road transport make up the majority of emissions in West Berkshire, more than that from industry and domestic energy use combined, according to the latest data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Steve Masters (Green, Speen) said: “West Berkshire Council has been slow to invest in infrastructure.

“The main reason for this is the previous administration paid only lip service to environmental matters.

“Sustained pressure from the Green Party in the years ahead of the elections in May forced them to act, albeit somewhat belatedly.”

Councillor for transport Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook) said: “It is very worrying to see that the official statistics suggest that electric vehicle ownership has declined so dramatically in West Berkshire in two years.

“These figures conflict with information from alternative sources.

“It is simply unbelievable.

“I have therefore tasked officers to find out why.

“Contact has already been made with the Department for Transport, who at this time cannot explain it either, so the investigation is now progressing to the source, DVLA, to find out why.

“West Berkshire Council has developed the infrastructure for electric vehicle use, installing charge points in key locations, and we have plans to continue this development in the future.”

In April, the council announced 36 new street charging points will be installed in Newbury over the next few months.

Last month, charging sites in the UK outnumbered petrol stations for the first time, according to Zap-Map, at 8,471 to 8,400.

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Article comments

  • NoisyNortherner

    13/06/2019 - 09:41

    I work for a moderately sized company and have to commute over 50 miles total every day to be in the office. The infrastructure is there for me to work from home, however there's a culture of "presenteeism", particularly in the area where I work. I also know several people in the same industry who have been discouraged from similar flexible working arrangements for the same reason. How about a national campaign to sell the benefits of working from home with regards to the environment for say one day a week? That's an immediate ~20% fewer emissions on the commute for anybody who is able to take it up.