Government plans electric vehicle roll out

Measures to support the uptake of alternative fuelled vehicles by improving the country’s network of charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure have been set out in the Queen’s Speech this morning.

“Legislation will be introduced to ensure the United Kingdom remains a world leader in new industries, including electric cars,” the Queen said at the state opening of Parliament.

The so called Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will allow the Government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers.

“This will ensure that charge points are convenient to access and work seamlessly right across the UK,” according to documents released following the Queen’s Speech. Increased uptake of electric vehicles will help to improve air quality, the documents add.

Electric vehicle charging point manufacturer InstaVolt’s chief executive Tim Payne said: “If we can improve access to rapid charging in public, people will be much more confident in buying and driving electric vehicles. Forecourt traders play an even bigger role than I think any of us have given them credit for in this bid to increase use of electric vehicles.”

The Bill also aims to put the UK at the forefront of automated vehicle ownership and “maintain our position as one of the best places to research and develop modern transport technologies”.

It will include provision for extending compulsory motor vehicle insurance to cover the use of automated vehicles, ensuring that compensation claims continue to be paid in line with existing insurance practice.

Also announced by the Queen was that a new bill will be brought forward to deliver the next section of High Speed 2 between the West Midlands and Crewe – known as Phase 2a. The Bill will provide the powers to build and operate this £3.5Bn element of the scheme which is scheduled to open in 2027. 

WSP UK’s head of rail Darren Reed said: “The backing of the next phase of HS2 to provide much needed capacity for the UK rail network is the reassurance the industry has been waiting for. As we enter Brexit talks, we need more than ever to invest in game changing infrastructure and develop economic corridors that better connect cities and drive economic growth across the UK.”

AECOM’s chief executive for UK and Ireland Patrick Flaherty said: “Commitments to HS2, electric cars and protecting critical infrastructure were all welcome. However, we would also like to have seen Crossrail 2 and the Heathrow expansion mentioned.”

Civil Engineering Contractors Association director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming also welcomed the HS2 announcement but said: “This this is just one of many schemes that the UK must press ahead with to shore up the economy. The new Government must now get on with the job by providing the certainty industry needs to thrive.”

Measures to protect critical infrastructure were also set out alongside high profile new legislation on Brexit and national security.

♦ Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has today launched his draft Transport Strategy for public consultation. The strategy includes significant focus on ‘healthy streets’ with measures proposed to reduce emissions, boost cycling and walking and invest in new passenger services.