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Norfolk could be 'left behind' in transition to electric cars, MP warns

PUBLISHED: 14:01 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:01 18 October 2019

Electric vehicle charging stations installed by South Norfolk Council. Picture: South Norfolk Council

Electric vehicle charging stations installed by South Norfolk Council. Picture: South Norfolk Council

Archant

Norfolk is at risk of being "left behind" during the transition to electric vehicles after the county council failed to apply for government funding for charging points, an MP has warned.

MP Sir Norman Lamb has spoken of his fondness for the pier. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodMP Sir Norman Lamb has spoken of his fondness for the pier. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Local authorities can apply for Department for Transport (DfT) funds to install electric charging points for residential use, with North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) recently applying for almost £250,000-worth of funds.

But Norfolk County Council chose not to apply for the grants for the on-street residential charging scheme (OSRCS), citing future maintenance of the charge points as "the greatest concern".

In a letter to Sir Norman, MP for North Norfolk, and chair of the parliamentary science and technology committee, the council's head of paid service Tom McCabe said: "The council may be left with stranded assets which require maintenance."

And he added that the council "do not want to disenfranchise the rural community" and said: "Norfolk is highly rural. The focus for charging points is heavily urban-centric. We do not want to see our rural community miss out on opportunities."

Electric vehicle charging points: Picture: ArchantElectric vehicle charging points: Picture: Archant

Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport, recently announced that funding for the OSRCS would be doubled, with £5m available to councils for 2019-20.

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Mr Shapps also wrote to Sir Norman, confirming that no applications for funding had been received from the county council.

Sir Norman said: "I was pretty dismayed. It's critically important we convert to electric cars and get traditional cars off the roads.

"The county council needs to get its act together and ensure that Norfolk isn't left behind.

"It would be a massive disadvantage if we have an inferior charging network."

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for transport, said he welcomed the recent DfT consultation on charging points, and was encouraged by the minister's support for parish councils' use of on-street residential charging.

He said: "We're also having discussions with the city council around charging points in the city centre and we want to install charging points on county council land with car parks, such as park and ride sites, museums, libraries and offices.

"We want to work with parish councils and other partners to identify appropriate rural locations. I'm keen for Norfolk to make the most of new technology and move to greener transport."

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