The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has announced what it has described as “a robust package of measures to turbocharge the UK’s progress towards decarbonising transport.” 

The announcement, made on 30th March, included a commitment to almost £400 million in funding to speed up the rollout of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure around England. In addition, a zero-emission vehicle mandate has been published, setting targets for the sale of new zero-emission cars and vans, with the aim of bolstering the competitiveness of the UK’s EV market. 

Another area of focus for the Government’s transport decarbonisation plans is the production in the UK of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). On this subject, the Government said it was opening the second application round of the £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund, which it said would help deliver on its commitment for the UK to have a minimum of five commercial-scale UK SAF plants under construction by the middle of this decade. 

“Transport is one of the most important sectors for achieving net zero” 

Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport, said alongside the announcement: “Transport is one of the most important sectors for achieving net zero by 2050, and so we must accelerate our efforts to decarbonise how people get from A to B, while growing our economy and supporting thousands of green jobs.” 

It seems that encouraging the continuing shift towards EVs will be a key part of this work, the Department having launched a £381 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, while putting a further £15 million towards the On-Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS). 

The Government said that these two allocations of funding would, together, support the installation of tens of thousands of new chargers up and down the country. It added that this would enhance EV infrastructure in every area, and ensure that the UK’s charging infrastructure would be capable of supporting the ever-higher numbers of EV drivers and those contemplating switching to an EV. 

Furthermore, the Department said that with effect from 2024 onwards, its “world-leading” zero-emission vehicle mandate would set minimum yearly targets for the percentage of new car and van sales that are required to be zero-emission. The Government said that the proposed mandate would give the UK the fastest path in Europe to zero-emission vehicles. 

The final proposals are subject to joint consultation by the UK Government, alongside Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

The Government also stated that it would provide flexibility to manufacturers in the sector through a credits-based trading system, whereby manufacturers exceeding annual targets in a particular year would be able to bank credits that they would be able to use in future years, or they could trade them with other manufacturers that have failed to meet targets. 

A manufacturer that does not meet its yearly target could be hit with fines amounting to as much as £18,000 for every vehicle it misses its target by. 

A seemingly strong platform for the accelerated decarbonisation of transport in Britain

Transport consultants up and down the UK will take a keen interest in these latest announcements, which build on progress that has already been made towards the decarbonisation of transport in the country – including nearly 17% of new cars sold in 2022 being zero emission. 

According to the Government, the most recent announcement will provide “long-term certainty to industry, increasing the number of zero emission cars available for people to buy, and setting a clear direction for operators to accelerate the installation of chargepoints.” 

Government plans in relation to transport decarbonisation had previously been referenced in a July 2021 written statement by the then-Transport Secretary (now the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero), Grant Shapps. The MP for Welwyn Hatfield had said that the Government’s transport decarbonisation proposals were “not about stopping people doing things; it’s about doing the same things differently.” 

Would you like to have a conversation with our own transport consultants about how we could aid the success of your next projects in light of a world that continues to drive towards net zero? If so, you are welcome to enquire today to your closest Transport Planning Associates (TPA) office