The British government-owned company Highways England is handing £9.3 million to local authorities to encourage businesses with diesel van fleets to convert to electric. The scheme works by offering the businesses a free trial of electric vehicles for two months.
The initiative was preceded by a successful pilot with the Energy Saving Trust and launched with Leeds City Council earlier in the year. Councils in Coventry, Kent, Nottingham, and Sheffield the following suit and setting up their schemes. Now the company has announced over £3 million of funding was agreed with Bristol City Council.
The goals set by the scheme are large – an overall investment of £936m is planned between 2020 and 2025, made possible by Highways England’s Designated Funds programme, which is “designed to benefit people, the economy and the planet”. Their investments benefit a variety of schemes aimed to improve the traffic network. For example, a recent initiative for charging infrastructure is part of the UK government programme with Highways England to ensure 95% of its major roads are within 20 miles of a charging point.
“We are working with councils across the country to encourage businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles, and we expect many more to start using electric vehicles when they experience the savings possible,” says Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive. He is further involved in the replication of the scheme as well: “This is a key example of how we are using designated funds to benefit the environment and communities around our roads as well as the people travelling and working on them.”
Government support is also strong as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This, together with our continued support for R&D, will see talented UK-based SMEs flourish, as well as more than 6,000 skilled jobs created up and down the country. This is why, on the world’s first-ever day dedicated to celebrating electric vehicles, I’m delighted to announce our unwavering support for a cleaner, greener transport future.”
Highways England was founded in 1994 as an executive arm of the department of transport and is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network (SRN) in the UK. While this network only covers 2% of England’s roads, it is frequented by about one-third of England’s motor traffic.
Source: Press release via email
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