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Cop28: Mark Harper announces trials to boost EV charging at motorway services

A 10-week consultation has been launched to seek views on where EV chargers are needed (Alamy/PA)
A 10-week consultation has been launched to seek views on where EV chargers are needed (Alamy/PA)

Trials to raise the number of ultra-rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints at motorway services have been announced by the Transport Secretary at the Cop28 climate summit.

During a visit to Dubai for the conference on Wednesday, Mark Harper unveiled a £70 million pilot scheme to boost electrical network capacity at up to 10 sites in England, enabling the private sector to install high-powered chargers at them.

Improving charging infrastructure at motorway services is seen as crucial to encouraging more people to switch to electric motoring, as the locations are often used by drivers making long journeys.

A 10-week consultation has been launched to seek views on where chargers are needed and how Government funding should be used.

Mr Harper said: “This Government is on the side of drivers, and working with the private sector to provide robust chargepoint infrastructure is part of our Plan for Drivers, with today’s announcement paving the way for more ultra-rapid chargepoints.

“This £70 million pilot scheme is the starting point and sends a message to consumers and industry that we are investing wisely and rapidly to grow the future of transport in the UK.”

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “New chargers are being installed all the time, but roll-out speeds need to increase drastically to keep up with demand.

“The problem chargepoint and motorway service operators are finding is that it takes too long to connect units to the high-powered electricity network.

“We hope this money, which is from the Rapid Charging Fund announced by the Prime Minister more than three years ago, goes some way towards changing that.”

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show pure battery electric models have taken a 16.3% share of the UK’s new car market in the first 10 months of this year, up from 15.1% at the same point in 2022.

Meanwhile, the UK and US used Cop28 to jointly announce that a competition to develop green shipping corridors between the countries will be launched in spring 2024.

These are shipping routes where zero-carbon emissions ships and other emissions reduction programmes are used.

UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Sarah Treseder said: “Green shipping corridors will play an important part in decarbonising shipping, especially on major routes such as the UK-US.

“To be successful they require dedicated infrastructure across the corridor to ensure that vessels can access low- and zero-emission fuels as well as facilities such as shore-side power.

“We look forward to working with the UK and US governments, as well those involved in the competition, to turn this project into a blueprint for how to create a successful green corridor.”