Electric car bid steps up a gear

An ambitious �7m scheme to promote greener travel in the region by setting up a network of 600 electric vehicle charging points has been delivered to ministers.

The Evalu8 proposal, which was submitted to government by Norfok Euro MP Vicky Ford and Norwich South MP Simon Wright, is a �7m scheme which would set up a network of charging points based around eight clusters, including Norwich, Ipswich, Cambridge and Peterborough.

Backed by leading businesses including Lotus, EDF Energy, BAE Systems, BT, Ford and Vauxhall Motors, the University of Hertfordshire, and the East of England Development Agency, the scheme would ensure that any local business or resident in the East of England would be no further than 25 miles away from their nearest charging post, making the whole of the region navigable by electric vehicles.

The bid, which was handed in to the Department for Transport’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) “Plugged in Places” scheme, would comprise of �3m of government funding plus �4m made up of cash from the regional partners and EU cash.

Mrs Ford said the proposal was an “outstanding bid”.

“Not only do we connect London and Milton Keynes, which are well under way installing their own charging post networks, but we also have the ideas and know-how to take full advantage of what an electric vehicle network could bring,” she said.

“With innovative local businesses throughout the advanced manufacturing and low carbon sectors, the East of England has the potential to lead the way and become a real test bed for new technologies – to drive forward the development of next generation electric vehicles. A successful Plugged in Places bid will provide the infrastructure required to unlock this potential and create significant supply chain opportunities for local businesses.”

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Mr Wright, said the region was perfectly placed to develop the technology.

“The East of England leads the country in generating electricity from low carbon sources and it would be appropriate for the region to also lead on electric vehicle infrastructure,” he said.

“The prospect of zero-emission cars driving around the region, powered by electricity generated by offshore wind from the east anglian coast is very exciting. In addition, this bid potentially leads to new jobs and investment across the region. We have the expertise, the ambition, and the support of industry to win this bid.”

Keith Bevis, a director of EValu8 Transport Innovations Limited – the company set up by the University of Hertfordshire to manage the project – said: “This is a really exciting time for the East of England. We are on the verge of leading a step-change in consumer culture. The lack of public plug-in points is seen as the biggest barrier to buying an electric vehicle. If successful, this major infrastructure bid to install 600 posts across our region – linking us to the London and Milton Keynes networks – will kick-start a consumer revolution.”

A final decision from government on the allocation of its Plugged in Places funding is expected by the end of December.

To find out more about the East of England’s Plugged in Places bid, including a full list of partners supporting the project, visit www.eastofengland.uk.com