Epping Forest is failing to keep pace with the national rollout of electric vehicle charging points, figures reveal.

Thinktank the Policy Exchange says there are still charging "blackspots" in regions across the UK, adding the speed of installations needs to increase to meet growing demand.

There were 34 public charging points in Epping Forest at the start of January, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

That is a rate of 26 per 100,000 people, lower than the UK average of 31.

Epping Forest District Council has aimed it sights at increasing the number of charging points to decrease air pollution near the forest and avoid having to introduce a Clean Air Zone charge for motorist – said to be a last resort by Tory councillors.

The council aims to increase the percentage of electric cars being driven in the district by 12-15 per cent by 2033 by encouraging residents to swap vehicles through the implementation of more charging stations and possible financial incentives.

Since October 2019 – when figures began at a local authority level – Epping Forest has seen 16 devices added to its supply.

Meanwhile, across the UK, an additional 5,700 devices were made available over the same period, taking the total number up to 20,800 at the start of this year.

In a bid to further boost numbers, transport minister Grant Shapps announced an extra £20 million was to be made available for local authorities.

However, a report by the Policy Exchange says the speed of the rollout needs to increase from the current rate to meet the planned ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.

It also found a gap in coverage of the charging points across the UK, claiming the Government's funding scheme for local authorities had not been evenly distributed.

The DfT acknowledged the "uneven" distribution of devices across the UK in a report accompanying the latest figures, which were produced from the platform Zap-Map covering 95 per cent of publicly accessible charging-points.

Mr Shapps said the extra £20 million cash for local authorities will see the doubling of 4,000 on-street electric vehicle charging points already funded by the Government.

He said: "With a world-leading charging network, we're making it easier for people to switch to electric vehicles, creating healthier neighbourhoods and cleaning up our air as we build back greener."

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, welcomed the support, but said "longer term resourcing" was needed.

Transport spokesman David Renard said: "Councils are working hard to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in their areas but are doing so against competing demands on their time and local circumstances will vary."

Electric cars have surged in popularity with manufacturers currently supplying a record number.

There were 921 electric vehicles licensed to addresses in Epping Forest at the end of September 2020, according to latest DfT data – up by 52 per cent from 606 in September 2019.

In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought forward the ban on petrol car sales from 2040 to 2030 as part of a "green industrial revolution" to tackle climate change.

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