Public Charge Point Regulations 2023

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 20th September 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I wish to say something about the regulations before we approve them. I speak as an electric car driver. I note that it has taken about five years for this House to come near to installing a couple of points.

The regulations are welcome, but they are only a tiny step forward. We will not be able to persuade the public to take up electric vehicles when the charging and the infrastructure are so lacking. These regulations do very little to improve the situation. They will not apply to anything that has less than an 8 kilowatt charge, workplace charge points, points for a specific car make, or use by a visitor to residential premises or micro-businesses. They do not apply to blocks of flats and they exclude slow charge points. They will take us only a step forward towards contactless. Most people, if they use charge points, still have to go around with a wallet full of membership cards of different organisations.

In the spirit of the Question put by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, earlier, will the Government promise that there will be more pressure to bring on board uniform electric charging points all over the country speedily?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for intervening. She reiterated the same points that she made when this statutory instrument was debated in the Moses Room. I covered all the points she raised in my response; noble Lords might want to look at that. I very much hope that she will listen to the Prime Minister’s statement in a few minutes time and feel reassured that the Government are absolutely behind zero-emission vehicles and recognise the need to build the infrastructure such that uptake is ever increasing.

Public Charge Point Regulations 2023

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 13th September 2023

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) (Con)
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My Lords, the transition to zero-emission vehicles is vital to realising our net-zero ambitions. Cars and vans are the source of 68% of the UK’s domestic transport emissions. That is why this Government have committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

We have already made significant progress towards this target. There are more than 1.2 million plug-in vehicles licensed in the UK, 58% of which are battery electric. We will shortly confirm details of our world-leading zero-emission vehicle mandate, which will continue to drive the uptake of these vehicles. However, the successful transition to zero-emission vehicles also requires a reliable, accessible and affordable charging network to be in place across the country.

There are already 45,500 public charge points installed across the country. The Government and industry are continuing to work together to drive these numbers up. The Government expect there to be at least 300,000 public charge points by 2030, largely led by the private sector. ChargeUK, the industry body for the electric vehicle charging industry, has committed to doubling the number of public charge points over the next 12 months.

These regulations were laid before Parliament on 11 July, under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018. The regulations will ensure that drivers of electric vehicles will be able to travel confidently, knowing that they can find a fully operational charge point suitable for their needs and can easily pay. Electric vehicle drivers can currently face challenges when trying to charge their vehicles. Concerns are often raised about locating a suitable charge point or the charge point not working on arrival. Paying for charging can also be confusing, with multiple apps and websites to navigate, and prices are displayed in different ways, making it hard to compare and find value for money. Left unchecked, these issues run the risk of eroding consumer confidence in the public charge point network, discouraging those looking to own an electric vehicle and slowing the electrification of fleets.

These regulations take bold steps to remove these obstacles. They are essential to accelerating electric vehicle ownership and reaching our net-zero ambitions. To develop these regulations, my department engaged with consumer groups, vehicle manufacturers, technical experts and the charge point industry, to fully understand the barriers and potential mitigations.

I turn to the content of the SI. To make payments easier across the charging network, these regulations introduce contactless payment at many new and existing charge points. Within one year, all new public charge points with a power rating of 8 kilowatts and above must provide contactless payment and all existing rapid charge points of 50 kilowatts and above must be retrofitted. These regulations also require that within two years, all charge point operators must offer payment roaming at all their charge points through at least one third-party roaming provider. Consumers will be able to pay for a charge across multiple charge point networks through one app or radio frequency identity card, RFID card, which is similar to a fuel card often used by drivers of petrol or diesel cars. This last element is crucial for fleet electrification, as it enables fleet operators to centralise the billing for charging their electric vehicles.

Pricing transparency will be mandated by these regulations. This means that drivers will be able to understand how much they are paying to charge their vehicle; it will empower them to find the best value for their needs. The total price of a charge must be displayed in pence per kilowatt hour and should be clearly displayed either on the charge point or through a separate device, to make price comparison across different networks much easier. Once the charging session has started, the price must not increase. Offers such as combining parking and charging fees will remain permissible if the charging component is also displayed in pence per kilowatt hour.

Charge point operators must also open their charge point data to the public. This will include live data on whether a charge point is operational and available. Data must be accurate and conform to a data standard—the open charge point interface—within one year of these regulations coming into force. Opening up charge point data will drive innovation in the development of consumer-friendly apps. This will put more detailed and reliable data at the fingertips of consumers, making it easier to locate available charge points.

The regulations will also require world-leading reliability across the public rapid charge point network. Charge point operators will be required to ensure that their network of rapid public charge points is working 99% of the time. This will be measured as an annual average and will apply one year from the date these regulations come into effect. Such a measure will give the public far greater confidence in the public charge point network.

Finally, the regulations will mandate that charge point operators must run a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, free-to-use telephone helpline for consumers. This should be set up within one year.

The regulations are essential to improving the consumer experience of driving and charging electric vehicles in the UK. They will deliver a public charge point network that the public can rely on. Charge points will be easy to find, with prices that are easy to understand and a service that is easy to pay for. The regulations will be vital in accelerating electric vehicle uptake and driving forward the Government’s commitment to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This step is crucial in the fight against climate change and shows the UK public that we are committed to enhancing the way in which they use the road network. I beg to move.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, as an electric car owner of six years, I welcome the attention being paid to our usage. The regulations represent a first step forward in the right direction, but it is too little and there is a long way to go.

The incidence of range anxiety is well known. Celebrities have written about how they will never drive electric again, having been thwarted in their attempts to charge up as they go on long journeys. The lack of charging points is almost a national joke. It has taken about five years of pleading for Parliament to install two chargers; after some postponements, they are finally expected after the Conference Recess. These are the rules for payment—or at least one of them:

“Via the QR code, scan the QR Code using your mobile device and follow the on-screen instructions on your mobile device, add a payment card, and pay as you go for the energy charge”.


I can see what will happen. Even that is relatively simple compared with some others—I will come to that point.

I solved my own charging issues by exchanging, at considerable expense, my low-range electric car for a much longer-range one, but many cannot afford that and many more live in terraced houses and blocks of flats with no access to a charging point in their garage or driveway, at work or in the road. Even in the road, there is no guarantee that a charger will be free and working or that a non-electric vehicle will not have taken the space reserved for an electric one. I have known banks of six chargers where you find that two of them are Tesla only, two are broken, one does not fit your car and one is in use. I gather that Tesla is now making its dedicated charge points available to other makes, but one will need a special adapter to connect the car. That needs to be widely known. How can we persuade the public to take up electric vehicles when charging and infrastructure are so lacking and complicated?

The regulations require contactless. To the public, that means tapping one’s everyday credit or debit card. Thankfully, it seems that is what the regulations mandate, instead of the current need to carry a wallet full of payment cards issued by many different charging providers. But this requirement applies only to new public charge points—we have to wait another year for the old ones—and those with a power of 8 kilowatts or above.

Moreover, public charge points are defined in the regulations not to include workplace charge points, points for a specific car make—Tesla, for example—or those for use by a visitor to residential premises. They do not apply to micro-businesses or to blocks of flats, and they exclude slow charge points. Why? Within two years, users will be able to use a payment card provided by one provider for another’s charge point, but it seems as if a provider need link up with only one other. We need one card to be used at every charge point nationally.

We need lighting requirements. Too often, the charge point, its tiny print about how to use it and the socket are shrouded in dark, at night and in the rain. Currently, the need to have wifi and an app may be a major obstacle. Imagine if you were a petrol car driver who gets to a petrol filling station late at night, only to find that your car is not allowed to be filled from that brand of pump and that you have to drive on and find another, or that the wifi is not working but is required.

The 99% liability is spread too thinly because it applies to the entire network, not the individual charging points. All in all, these regulations go too far in avoiding excessive regulatory burdens on industry, as they put it. I prefer to express it as too weak a requirement on industry to make the charge points that it provides, and from which it profits, all work all the time. Charging points should be uniform and there needs to be an end to the multiple, confusing charging membership packages.

The provision of data mandated in the regulations is good. One needs to know in advance whether the charging point that one wants to rely on is actually free and in working order. I fear that the mandated 24-hour telephone helpline may turn out to be one more where one is left holding on in the dark—and the rain—while music plays and a recording says, “Your call is important to us”.

Although these regulations herald an improvement on the current situation, it is only seven years until 2030 and the phasing out of petrol cars. There is not enough here to persuade the worried consumer to trust electric vehicle charging, because there are too many exemptions and providers are being given too long to adjust, given that electric cars have been mass produced and used since at least 2010. The regulations need to apply to every charge point, wherever it is, whatever its strength and very soon.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Monday 3rd July 2023

(8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the balance between (1) the duty of local authorities under section 122 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to secure expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular traffic and pedestrians, and (2) the imposition of low traffic neighbourhoods and low emission zones.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) (Con)
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My Lords, the department has made no such assessment. It is for local authorities to ensure they manage their roads in such a way as to fulfil the duties placed on them. They have a wide range of traffic management tools to support them in this.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I declare a type of interest in that I drive an all-electric car and I have a clear conscience.

Does the Minister want people to return to work and productivity to increase? I am urging the Government to stop any government inducement to obstacles placed in the way of normal life in pursuit of ideology and fines, not science. Studies prepared for Oxford show that pollution is simply displaced from the centre and the same amount goes to the ring road where poorer people tend to live, and they are the ones punished by fines.

There are about 100 empty shops in Oxford. Businesses near the low-traffic neighbourhoods are folding with great losses, and they are often owned by ethnic minorities. There are tussles in the streets over the barriers, ambulances take longer and the once beautiful Broad Street is filled with industrial crates. Working people are having great difficulties, the consultations are ignored and the scientific evidence is withheld. Most important of all, the traffic blockades discriminate—even the blue badge is not exempt. Will the Government enforce the protection of the rights of elderly, pregnant and disabled people?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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There was a fair amount in that statement. The noble Baroness mentioned Oxford, and it is important to understand that all the issues she mentioned should be taken up with the local authority. The Government have never been in control of local roads and are not now. These issues are devolved to the local authority, and I encourage her to raise those issues with her local council.

HGVs: Charging and Refuelling

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Monday 22nd May 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My colleagues at DESNZ, as I believe it is called nowadays, will be cognisant of our need to produce a significant amount of renewable electricity in future, and I hope that nuclear is part of that.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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Does the Minister see a connection between the previous Question and this one, and will she acknowledge that public transport in this country is in a dire condition? I drive electric. There is still nowhere to charge up here; one dare not go on a long journey because there is nowhere to charge. The train between Didcot and Oxford has been out of action for months. The main road from the west of Oxford to the station is being closed for 12 months. We are virtually prisoners in our own home. I dread to think what this is doing for the tourist trade and business generally, but nobody seems to care.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am very sorry to hear that the noble Baroness has experienced those issues in her local area; they are certainly not replicated across the country. She may be talking about the Nuneham viaduct, where there has been some subsidence. It closed on 3 April. We understand the frustration, but we are working very closely with GWR, CrossCountry, Chiltern and Network Rail to ensure that we get passengers moving. Engineers are working on the project, and we hope to have good news for the noble Baroness soon.

Network Rail: Funding and Reliability

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 26th April 2023

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The noble Baroness referred to the source of her Question being a leak in the Independent. It was not really a leak, because we are not even half way through the process of the business planning, and, as I said, the real-terms increase in funding is up 4%. In fact, it was some slides prepared by a mid-level National Rail employee presenting the industry with some ideas for different funding scenarios for CP7—so never believe everything that you read in the newspaper. On contracts for TOCs, we look at each TOC on a case-by-case basis, and I am aware that another contract will be up for consideration in due course. Legislation for rail reform will arrive as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I would like to know what the Minister considers to be the current levels of reliability. I commute from Oxford. The main line from Oxford to Paddington is closed until at least June, because of a broken bridge which should have been fixed ages ago. The main road from west Oxford to the station is closed at the end because another bridge is being repaired. Without any co-ordination, it is almost impossible to leave the city. Should it not be a human right to be able to get in and out of one’s own city?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The noble Baroness raises some very important points, which demonstrate exactly why we need this uplift in funding. However, it is not always about just funding; it is about how we make the necessary repairs and how we do maintenance. She mentioned bridges, which are incredibly important, as there is a bow wave of older assets which need to be maintained. However, by using box structure flyover bridges to replace old flyovers and bridges, one could do that at a vastly reduced cost. Those are the sorts of modernisations we need to get into our maintenance regime.

Bus Services: Covid-19 Emergency Funding

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Tuesday 1st March 2022

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I agree with the noble Lord. The Government are absolutely committed to pump-priming the zero-emission bus sector. We have £525 million in the kitty to deliver new zero-emission buses. The noble Lord will have seen that the order for Coventry has gone in for 130 buses, and we have announced £71 million for five other areas, for 335 buses, and the orders will go in very soon. But what is the point of all this money—and it is an astonishing amount of money? It is such that we develop the market so that the economics mean that for a bus operator it makes sense to choose a zero-emission bus in future, because it is cheaper and more reliable and provides the level of service that we would expect.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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Do the Government believe that they have got value for money from the very large grants to Transport for London, given the utter chaos today, which has been met with something of a shrug? Buses are unable to move because of many unnecessary cycle lanes, London is generally in a very poor state—and no one appears to care.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My Lords, this Government really do care about what is happening in London. I think that the strike today is unnecessary; it is self-defeating and will damage the job prospects of those who currently are working in what is, in general terms, an excellent transport system. The most recent deal that we did with Transport for London set out very clearly our expectations of the Mayor of London, given his oversight of TfL, to bring forward its modernisation programme, which totals £730 million, but also to look for further savings of around £400 million. That is a lot of money. How was Transport for London allowed to build up such fat?

National Bus Strategy

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 16th December 2020

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My noble friend is quite right that we have come on in leaps and bounds since 1868. In the first instance, many buses have transponders fitted to them, which will communicate with the traffic light controller and can cause the light to change. However, newer technology uses GPS tracking rather than transponders; again, that can communicate with traffic lights, but it can also provide real-time bus information, which can be made available at bus stops.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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Will the Minister ensure that the national bus strategy takes a more constructive and comprehensive approach than just focusing on cutting down on private cars? Buses are held up by delivery and service vans, necessitated by the growth in London population, unwanted cycle lanes and empty Uber cabs circulating, unco-ordinated roadworks and wider pavements. The Boris buses in London and elsewhere are unhealthily sealed shut, with no ventilation and no doors open to allow getting on and off, and this, too, must change.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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As the noble Baroness will be aware, transport in London is the responsibility of the mayor, so I shall not go into great detail on that. However, she has raised a really important point, which is that road-space reallocation is going to be one of the key features as we try to decarbonise our transport landscape and balance the needs of car users, delivery drivers, bus users and, of course, cyclists.

Electric Vehicles

Debate between Baroness Deech and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Thursday 10th September 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am grateful to my noble friend for raising two important issues, over both of which I have very limited power. Obviously, London roads come under the remit of TfL and the Mayor of London. However, as my noble friend will know, we are in deep discussions with TfL and the Mayor of London, given their financial situation at the moment, and I am sure the conversation will at some stage turn to roads and their closure. As for my noble friend’s first point, about installing a charging point in the House of Lords car park, I will indeed join his mini-campaign.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I too have an electric car and have been unable to park in the House of Lords because of bureaucracy and expense that we need to sweep away. In general, as you travel around the country and you need to recharge, that requires uniformity. Everywhere one goes, there are different credit card-type of memberships. Imagine if every time you went to a petrol station you found different sized pumps and that different memberships of organisation were required. We need uniformity all over the country. Will the Minister encourage that?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Deech, has raised an important issue. It is a fact that some cars cannot use certain chargers. However, the Government also recognise that a huge amount of innovation is taking place in this field at the moment. We are very clear that all charge points should accept debit and credit cards and be freely available to people. We want the data, on whether charge points are up and running and where they are, to be freely available. We will consult on the powers we have through the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 to mandate minimum standards for charge points which will include things like contactless provision, transparency in pricing and, as I have said, access to information.