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Government failure to develop national electric car charging system is costing drivers

THE government’s failure to develop a national system of recharging electric cars is leading to drivers paying up to £240 to refuel their vehicles — if they can find a charging point.

In what has been described as a “postcode lottery,” drivers face widely varying costs of plugging in their cars and issues with availability of charging points, depending on where they live.

Energy firm British Gas submitted freedom of information requests to 400 local authorities about the availability of charging points and the cost of using them. It also surveyed 2,000 drivers.

It found that 21 councils allow electric vehicle drivers to charge their cars for free. They include Bridgend, Leeds and Woking.

But some councils impose fees, charging a price per kilowatt an hour — and the cost could be £240.

The most expensive fees are charged by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Gloucestershire and Cotswold District Council.

The cost of fully recharging a car at home using off peak electricity is about £3.90.

British Gas head of electric vehicle (EV) enablement Lucy Simpson said that there would be a lower take-up of electric vehicles in areas where recharging is expensive.

She said: “If charging doesn’t become more accessible in these areas, we could see a slower rate of adoption.

“It’s unfair that those who don’t live in areas with either free or low-cost charging are being discriminated against based on their address.

“If this continues, we risk leaving a huge number of drivers behind in the transition to electric cars.”

Labour said that just weeks after the Cop26 climate conference, the government had cut the level of grants made to drivers who switch to electric.

The grant towards buying an EV has been cut from £3,500 to £3,000 by the government.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “Just weeks after the Prime Minister promised action at Cop26, the Tories have slashed the green grant for electric cars and backtracked on a pledge to install more charging points.

“The government simply isn’t serious about tackling the climate crisis.”

Ms Haigh said Labour would help lower income drivers switch to electric cars and make more charging points available.

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