The UK government just gave electric cars a £40m boost

Figures show low-emission transport in the UK is already on the rise, but the government has given it a £40 million helping hand. Yesterday, the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced cities including Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London will get a total of £40 million to help encourage drivers to use ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs). The prize fund came courtesy of the Go Ultra Low City Scheme, a competition that awarded grants to cities with the most eco-friendly proposals.

Although Go Ultra Low has awarded £40 million to eight separate cities, the money won’t be shared equally. So what is each city doing with the money?

  • London plans to use its £13 million share to help form “Neighbourhoods of the Future”, a multilateral programme that intends to prioritise ULEVs over traditionally-powered vehicles. Hackney will dramatically increase its charging infrastructure by building power points into existing street lights, while Harrow will offer priority traffic lanes and parking spaces to those in low emissions vehicles.
  • Milton Keynes will use £9 million to open an advice and loan centre, meaning prospective buyers can get advice about ULEVs – and even test-drive selected models. The city will also make its 20,000 parking bays free for EV-owners.
  • Bristol is set to use £7 million of the fund offer three ULEV-only lanes, and 80 additional charging points.
  • Finally, Nottinghamshire and Derby will use £6 million to install 230 charging points – as well as giving ULEV owners cheaper parking and access to selected bus routes.

Forcing the ULEV issue

“With thousands more plug-in cars set to be sold, cutting running costs for motorists and helping the environment, this investment will help to put the UK at the forefront of the global ultra-low emissions race,” said Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, and I’m inclined to agree.

If the UK is to become more eco-friendly, it can’t just wait for car manufacturers such as Tesla to build their own EV-friendly infrastructure. ULEVs can be a viable solution, but they’ll need the government to force the issue and make them a more attractive option to the public. That means spending, and that’s exactly what the UK is doing.

The Go Ultra Low Cities fund only represents the tip of the iceberg, with a planned total of £400 million of investment going into more sustainable transport. Although we still have a way to go, with such forward-thinking plans already in place, the UK is in good shape for the ULEV revolution.

Read next: The UK went crazy for electric vehicles and hybrids in 2015 

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