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The East of England is all set to lead the UK’s development and take-up of electric vehicles after a major funding bid was given the green light today by the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond.
Competing against stiff competition from other regions and cities, the East of England’s EValu8 project – to install a major network of electric charging points across the region – won up to £2.9 million of funding through the Government’s Plugged in Places initiative. Projects in the Midlands, Greater Manchester, Scotland and Northern Ireland were also given the go-ahead by Government today.
With over £7 million now in place from partners including the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and other private and public sector organisations committed to match-funding plug-in points, work on installing the network of 1,200 smart recharging points is scheduled to start in Spring next year.
Retail outlets, public car parks, railways stations, local businesses and residential streets have already been identified as prime locations for plug-in points to be installed across the East of England, particularly focussed in hot-spots in and around Bedford, Luton, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Thames Gateway South Essex and London Stansted Airport.
EValu8 will link-up with existing projects to provide an integrated network of plug-in points stretching all the way from London to the north Norfolk coast, and from Milton Keynes to Felixstowe. By the end of 2013, all local businesses and residents in the East of England will be no more than 25 miles away from a recharging post.
Announcing the selection of the successful regions, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:
“A few years ago, ultra-low emission cars with mass market appeal appeared just a pipe dream. Now they are a reality and we can have all the convenience of the car without the carbon that normally goes with it.
“Government action to support affordable vehicles and more local charging points means we are on the threshold of an exciting green revolution – 2011 could be remembered as the year the electric car took off.
“The British public has in the past shown it’s ready to embrace new technology and take practical steps to adopt a lifestyle kinder to the environment, so we could really be at the start of something big.”
Deborah Cadman, chief executive of EEDA – which developed the East of England project in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and Future Transport Systems (FTS) – said:
“What makes the East of England’s EValu8 project stand out is our unrivalled potential to use this network as a test bed for cutting-edge new technologies. The global market for electric vehicles is growing rapidly. And here, in the East of England, we have a world-renowned innovative business community with the expertise to capitalise on the opportunities by developing the next generation of electric vehicles, components and services. Evalu8 will be the catalyst to this development and will ultimately help to accelerate the revolution in consumer culture and the take-up in electric vehicles.”
Keith Bevis, director of Evalu8 Transport Innovation Ltd – the company set-up by the University of Hertfordshire to lead the delivery of EValu8 – said:
“Evalu8 has enjoyed enormous support and commitment from over 100 public and private sector organisations, including all eleven of the East of England’s local transport authorities and big industry names including Vauxhall Motors, Ford, Lotus, Ricardo, BT, UK Power Networks, BAE Systems, London Stansted Airport, Ecotricity, BRE, Millbrook Proving Ground and Visteon; plus the commitment and technology resource from FTS.
“With our own strengths as a leading entrepreneurial University and our expertise in travel planning and electric vehicle technology, we are keen to capitalise on this support. It is a great opportunity to innovate with these organisations and a host of smaller companies in the East of England to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles in the region and reduce our long term oil dependency and carbon footprint.”