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The Transport and Business Secretaries have today announced the Government's vision for cutting carbon from road transport over the next five years. The vision and Budget 2009 provide over £1.4 billion of extra targeted support in the low-carbon sector, which involves plans to invest £250m to support the purchase of electric and plug-in hybrid cars when they arrive in showrooms, expected to be from 2011 onwards.
The Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced the plans which will also promote infrastructure and support technology development and encourage manufacture in the UK, whilst incentivising consumers.
The Government's press release (see associated link) says that help worth between £2,000 and £5,000 will be available to 'ordinary motorists' looking to purchase electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids.
The Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "The scale of incentives we're announcing today will mean that an electric car is a real option for motorists as well as helping to make the UK a world leader in low carbon transport."
The strategy also includes plans to provide £20 million for charging points and related infrastructure to help develop a network of 'electric car cities' throughout the UK and an expansion of an electric and ultra-low carbon car demonstration project on the UK's roads.
The Government has also published a 16-page document (see associated link) which sets out how the Government will coordinate public sector activity and work with industry and academia to:
* build on the R&D activities of the automotive industry to make the UK a leading place in the world to develop, demonstrate and manufacture ultra-low carbon vehicles.
* accelerate market penetration of ultra-low carbon cars which will contribute materially to the overall national target on emissions for greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
* maximise the benefit to UK operating firms and supply chains of this accelerated market penetration and continue to attract inward investment for the development and production of ultra-low carbon vehicles.
As part of the strategy launch Government has invited input from stakeholders on the strategy. Comments can be made directly via the website here www.hmg.gov.uk/lowcarbon or join the online community for more in-depth discussion and to find the latest news and events. The views submitted will inform the final strategy to be published in the summer.
In a statement linked to the Government's announcement Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced his intent to make the city the electric car capital of Europe". He said he wanted to introduce 100,000 electric cars to the capital's streets and to build an infrastructure of 25,000 charging points in public streets, car parks and shops.
The Mayor said he would pay for a third of the £60m plan from the budget of the Greater London Authority (GLA), and challenged the Government to fund the rest. Mr Johnson said: "The time for simply talking about electric vehicles is over - we need real action on the ground to make the electric vehicle an easy choice for Londoners."
The Conservative Party, however, was less impressed by the announcement. George Osborne the Shadow Chancellor said on BBC's World at One: “It is a fantasy announcement … for three years time if … they win the general election and they talk about electric cars but not about how you support electric cars. If you’ve not started to build the network of plug-in points then it’s a bit like giving someone a grant for the internal combustion engine and not providing petrol stations."
The Conservatives had proposed in a '£30bn Green Technology Recovery Paper' that electric vehicle recharging points should be designated as regulated assets and that incentives should be introduced for energy companies to invest ahead of need and establish a new recharging network across the UK. The Conservatives said that this "will enable Britain to lead the world in replacing traditional cars with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles".