Labour’s electric vehicle plan has been branded “long overdue and lacking in detail” by the Welsh Conservatives.
Ministers published a plan this week outlining how they are going to build a confident future for electric car users – more than two and a half years after declaring a climate emergency.
However, the Welsh Conservatives have questioned just how ambitious the plans are as the government revealed it intends to create just 80 electric charging points on Wales’ main trunk roads in four years.
And there are fears rural communities across Wales will be left behind with no announcement of funding to accompany their proposals for community hubs.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS, said, “We all have our part to play in creating a greener world and shifting towards more sustainable transport, but this plan lacks some major details and I fear isn’t as ambitious as it could be.
“There is absolutely no mention of how much this plan is going to cost, and is creating just 80 charging points in four years on Wales’ main roads really that ambitious, especially as we need some 20,000 across the country so people can join the green car revolution?
“Wales has just 3.8% – or 1,002 – of the UK’s total charging points, which puts us 10th out of the 12 nations and regions of the UK, so if we are serious about switching to electric cars we need to see much more significant action from the Welsh Government.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, added, “Labour talk about the urgent need for action to help our planet, but since declaring a climate change emergency more than two and a half years ago it is clear it hasn’t ‘triggered a wave of action’ as ministers had hoped.
“With COP26 just around the corner, this could’ve been a perfect opportunity for the Welsh Government to show the world they are serious about climate change, but it appears they have missed an open goal.
“Not too long ago the Welsh Government said 4,000 rapid charging points were needed by 2030, however there is no reference to this in the strategy. Has this target been dropped? There are too many unanswered questions that need addressing urgently.
“Maybe the Deputy Minister for Climate Change should take a look at the British Government’s plan for a Green Industrial Revolution to get some real inspiration.”
With already more than 1,000 public charging points across Wales, one for every six battery electric vehicles, the plans set out an approach to ensure that the number of charging points continue to grow to meet increasing demand as fossil fuel vehicles are phased out.
The EV Charging Action Plan also sets out how the Welsh Government will be working closely with the private sector, with the aim of delivering a charging point facility for every 20 miles of the strategic trunk network across Wales by 2025, providing further reassurance to electric vehicle drivers.
With transport generating around 17% of all carbon emissions in Wales, improving electric vehicle infrastructure is just one step that the Welsh Government is taking to reduce the impact transport is having on both the environment and our health. Llwybr Newydd, the Welsh Government’s transport strategy sets out how we will shape our transport system in Wales over the next 20 years encouraging more people out of cars and using public transport, walking or cycling.
Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said, “We need to do more in the next ten years than we’ve done in the last thirty if we’re to reach our NetZero target by 2050. Changing the car dependency culture that has been created in the past and encouraging more people to use public transport will be key, but for those essential car journeys, making the switch to an electric vehicle is another way we can make a difference.
“The plan I’ve published sets out the action we will be taking to deliver high quality electric vehicle infrastructure across Wales. Working with the private sector we have ambitious plans in place to increase the number of charging points across the country, so drivers feel confident to make the switch as demand for electric vehicles increases.”
The Welsh Government’s Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) Transformation Fund has already provided a kick-start for many EV projects across Wales.
Carmarthenshire Council was awarded a £350,000 grant to develop a rapid charging facility on the A48 in Cross Hands. The multi-point charging facility will serve one of the main tourist routes through Wales. The facility comprises five rapid chargers from 50kW to 150kW under a solar canopy with capacity for further expansion and is expected to be operational later this year.
The next round of ULEV funding will open for bids in December 2021. The fund will help local authorities deliver more than 300 publicly accessible fast and rapid charging points across Wales this financial year. There are also plans in place to increase both public and private sector delivery in line with the Welsh Government’s strategy in future years.