Thousands of rapid EV chargers planned for English motorways
National Highways is set to install 2,500 rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers across England’s network of major roads by the end of the decade.
The plans were confirmed today (18 May) through the body’s new strategic plans for 2025 to 2030.
National Highways, which operates 4,500 miles of road networks, is planning to install around 2,500 rapid EV chargers within the five-year period.
As well as installing the chargers, a priority will be improving accessibility though digital technologies. National Highways will enhance the collection of real-time data on whether charging points are available.
The Local Government Association estimates that there will be up to 11 million EVs and hybrid vehicles in the UK by 2030, and this rapid uptick will necessitate additional charging infrastructure.
Indeed, the publication of the plans comes shortly after the International Energy Agency (IEA) published the 2023 edition of its Global Electric Vehicle Outlook. The Agency is predicting a 35% year-on-year increase in EV sales this year, meaning that one in five car sales will be electric.
Total climate impact
The Department for Transport (DfT) has eight weeks to approve the National Highways plan ahead of a broader consultation.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said the plans “will help to enhance connectivity and boost growth, while protecting the environment”.
The plans reiterate National Highways’ existing commitments to reduce its own direct emissions to net-zero by 2030 and to reduce maintenance-related and construction-related emissions by up to 50% within the same timeframe. This latter target will be achieved by improving material efficiency and process efficiency, and shifting to low-carbon materials and fuels.
But, as was the case when the draft Road Investment Strategy (RIS), the plans are likely to be met with a mixed reaction from the green economy. National Highways has stated that maintenance and proactive improvements are its priority, but it is also planning to expand a raft of A roads. This means additional emissions from both construction and road use.
Moreover, the plans state National Highways’ intention to increase investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, including segregated paths away from highways. Yet the Government recently confirmed plans to almost halve its active transport investment in England – so it’s unclear how National Highways will be able to deliver.
editor’s note: One day after the National Highways plans were published, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed how it will be allocating £200m to local councils for walking and cycling infrastructure and schemes. It is not clear how much of this funding is new.
The UK’s climate advisory body, the Climate Change Committee, is recommending that traffic levels will need to be reduced even as the EV market grows. Think-tanks IPPR and Green Alliance have both warned that the Government’s efforts to decarbonise transport are focusing too much on EVs and could fail to provide affordable and clean transport alternatives that cut overall car use.
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