The Government has outlined more support for green drivers to encourage greater use of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Ministers want councils to be at the forefront of an electric car revolution making it easier for drivers to make green choices. They are urging councils to promote electric vehicle charging points in new developments, without making developments unaffordable.
Crucially, Ministers are announcing their intention to allow charging points to be built on streets and in outdoor car parks without the need for planning permission.
The Government believes this will help redraw the motoring map of the country – building on the launch of eco-friendly car grants, available to green motorists from this month. The Plug-In Car Grant will reduce the cost of eligible cars by a quarter, up to a maximum of £5,000.
Ministers believe people will embrace new technology and take practical steps to adopt a lifestyle kinder to the environment if they are given the right support by central and local government. This means more charging points across the country in order to increase the mass market appeal of electric vehicles.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:
"Over the last decade, motorists' lives have become a misery, with politicians failing to address people's aspirations to own cars. With 84 per cent of journeys made by car, instead of pointlessly penalising drivers we want to make it easier for car owners to make greener choices on the road.
"We know people want to buy into the eco friendly car, but they need their politicians to catch up and bring in the infrastructure that makes it a feasible option. That's why we are today urging councils to include charging points in new developments and the Government will relax the need for planning permission for electric charging points on streets, walls and in car parks."
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:
"Electric cars have the potential to revolutionise motoring in the 21st Century allowing us to have the benefits of a car without damaging the environment.
"This Government recognises that cars are a lifeline for many people – and that by supporting the next generation of electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles, it can enable sustainable green motoring to be a long-term part of Britain's future transport planning."
The coalition Government is committed to low carbon growth, tackling climate change and making our energy supply more secure. The Government has made provision of over £400m to promote the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicle technologies – including support for consumer incentives, continued investment in electric vehicle recharging infrastructure through the Government's 'Plugged-In Places Scheme' and research and development activities. The Government will continue to monitor the most effective way to deliver this investment, with the first review of the Plug-In Car Grant taking place in 2012.
Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark added:
"It's no good having an electric car if there's nowhere to charge it up, so planning rules have to catch up with car technology. At the moment planning permission is required for a charging point, but not for a parking meter. We'll change that so charging points will no longer need planning permission. That way, at a stroke, we remove the bureaucracy – allowing 2011 to be the year when electric motoring is made easy."
The move comes as the Government makes wider changes to national planning policy this week designed to ease drivers' parking woes.