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Westminster Blog: Moving to electric

Newbury MP Richard Benyon on a transport revolution

Andy Murrill

Richard Benyon


01635 886625

Westminster Blog: Moving to electric

It is early days but there is a transport revolution going on.

The number of electric vehicles bought in the UK was up nearly 30 per cent last year and the Government has stated its commitment to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

MPs from all sides of the House spent several hours this week debating the logistics of this revolution and the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill passed its third reading on Monday night.

There was a cross-party desire to see the right infrastructure in place to support the move to electric cars and key to this is the charging network.

In the Autumn Budget last year, the Chancellor announced a £400m charging infrastructure investment fund to help expand the current network of almost 12,000 charging points around the UK.  

I know there are points in the Kennet Centre and others at Parkway, Chieveley Services, car dealerships, hotels and sports centres around the Newbury and Reading area.

Those with off-street parking can plug into their own domestic supply but for others we need a network of on-street charging points.

In addition, charging points should become the norm at garages, supermarkets, railway stations, car parks, hospitals, schools and libraries, anywhere where people might need to top up.

Just this month, ministers at the Departments for Transport and BEIS have written to local authorities reminding them about the grants available for installing on-street charging points.

The DfT’s On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, launched in 2016, has had a disappointingly low take-up with only five councils in the whole country taking advantage of this offer which covers up to 75 per cent of the cost of procuring and installing charge points.

There is apparently still £4.5m up for grabs and I would love to see councils – and residents – in Berkshire benefitting from this.

West Berkshire Council has obtained funding for a Co-Wheels Car Club which provides low emission, hybrid or electric car hourly hire in Newbury and car club users can access charge points in the Kennet Centre and in Eight Bells car park. And the council now has several electric vehicles in its transport fleet.  

There’s still a long way to go but this revolution is happening.

We need to take seriously the automotive sector’s much more positive approach towards electric vehicles, the significant and ongoing progress in battery technology, and the upturn in consumer confidence that saw the UK buying over 10 times the number of electric cars in 2017 than in 2013.

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will now go to the Lords for further scrutiny but when it becomes law you can be sure that one of its consequences will be to make it easier to recharge an electric vehicle in Berkshire and all across the UK.


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Article comments

  • philjay2

    01/02/2018 - 15:03

    The diesel that costs £1.25/litre at the pumps is only about 40p/litre before tax and duty so when the pool of electric cars grows does anyone think that the government of the day is going to forgo all that revenue? Nope, they will find a way of raising the cost of your electric motoring to the same level or more than it is now.


  • Justin S

    01/02/2018 - 13:01

    Just think if we all went electric, we wouldnt have enough left to turn the lights on at home. All this electricity cant get down the infrastructure already in place from many years ago. It needs investment to make it suitable. As for buying an electric car. I guess the man who ironically cant drive has had time to look into them from brochures , on the bus, that a small electric car starts from £25 grand. Just think, if we all had that money stashed away, would we spend it on a car that we cant charge as the house lights go out ?


  • EugeneStryker

    01/02/2018 - 12:12

    Just for a bit of balance to the Benyon propaganda machine: if electricity is so wonderful you have to question the Tories abandoning electrification from Swansea to Cardiff, Midland Mainline and lines in the Lake District. Also, lets be clear the Tories don't give a toss about air quality but the EU were threatening huge fines since we continually falling short of air quality guidelines. Luckily we are 'taking back control' and soon we can pollute our air and shorten the lives of our citizens to our heart's content. If we built proper segregated cycle lanes (rather than the nonsense that is proposed in Newbury), gave similar tax breaks to the purchase of ebikes, we would impact air quality much quicker and leverage many other social benefits.