Electric Car Revolution – Cornwall leading the way

Cornwall has 115 charging stations, the third highest in the country

The UK government wants to “lead the world in zero emission vehicle technology” by encouraging drivers around the country to go green and choose an ultra low or zero emissions vehicle. Last year, some 46,000 electric vehicles were registered for the first time.

BBC Shared Data Unit plus additional reporting

Although the Department for Transport claims 80% of current electric vehicle charging happens at home, drivers who do not have access to off-street parking or who do not own their property still face difficulties charging on the go under the current infrastructure.

This comes after the government launched the Road to Zero Strategy in 2018 to “lead the world in zero emission vehicle technology”. As part of the strategy the government said at least half of new cars (and 40% of new vans) should be ultra low emission by 2030.

While a large number of charging stations are installed privately, the government has been encouraging businesses, home owners and local authorities to install more charging points through various grants and schemes.

The BBC data shows Cornwall has the third highest number of charging stations out of all UK local authorities, although the Isles of Scilly has none.

Cornwall has 115 public charging stations, the third highest in the country after Milton Keynes then Westminster and only these three local authorities have more than 100.

This is for 871 registered vehicles in Cornwall – which as ratio per 1000 vehicles is 1:135 which is above average but not near top & the distance on average to a nearest charging point is about 1.5 km which again is average.

Number of charging locations in local authorities:

  • Areas with the highest number of charging locations:
  1. Milton Keynes (138)
  2. Westminster (131)
  3. Cornwall (115)
  • Areas with the fewest number of charging locations:
  1. Merthyr Tydfil (1)
  2. Caerphilly (1)
  3. North Dorset (1)
  4. Hinckley and Bosworth (1)
  • No charging stations were identified in: Barrow-in-Furness, Hyndburn, Rossendale, Castle Point, Rochford and Isles of Scilly


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Councillor Sue James, who holds the portfolio for environment and public protection at Cornwall Council until May, and who drives an electric car herself, said:

“We are delighted that Cornwall has come near the top in the country for the number of electric vehicle charge points available and is evidence of our ongoing commitment to reducing CO2 emissions and tackling climate change.

“Cornwall has 115 electric charging stations in 22 locations across the duchy and there are plans to increase the numbers of charge points in public carparks and other locations.

“We were also recently awarded over £90K for 5 new charge points, at four sites across Cornwall specifically for use by taxis to charge electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Cllr Sue James at the recent student climate change demo

“In January we declared aclimate emergency calling on Westminster to give us the powers and resources necessary to achieve our target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral by 2030.

In addition to our electric charge points we are already increasing spaces for nature in our communities, reducing traffic congestion, improving public transport, reducing waste and supporting renewable energy sources.”

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, commented on the national figures: “These findings show that despite the Government’s ambitions to accelerate the take-up of cleaner vehicles, charging infrastructure is presently something of a postcode lottery, and patchy at best in some parts of the country.

“RAC research has found the lack of charging infrastructure is one of the three main barriers for electric vehicle take-up, along with range anxiety and high upfront vehicle costs.

“Clearly, we need to improve this access to charge points as a whole, but special attention needs to be given to installing more rapid chargers on the strategic road network as well as adding charging capability at car parks where people spend longer periods, such as at shopping and leisure centre car parks.”

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Bridget Fox, Sustainable Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport said:

“Moving to electric vehicles, as well as reducing overall traffic levels, is vital to tackling air pollution and reducing transport’s CO2 emissions, but for many drivers the lack of easy access to charging is a major barrier to making the switch.

It’s not just about the charging network though; we also need the manufacturers to make EVs more easily available, and fleet buyers to kick start the market by switching to electric sooner rather than later.”   

“Councils can help by requiring off-street charging points as part of planning applications and by prioritising electric vehicles in car parks.

We’d like to see more charging points reserved or prioritised for car clubs, which help people go electric in an affordable way”

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