4 Conclusion |
33. The Government must make significant efforts
to decarbonise road transport in order to meet the carbon reduction
plans set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. Government support
for the low-carbon vehicle sector will be important to reduce
carbon emissions from road transport. The intention is that plug-in
cars should be a principal contributor to decarbonising road transport.
But if so, they will need to be widely adopted by the public.
Whilst the Minister said adoption was progressing according to
forecasts, the market for these vehicles remains small (approximately
1%). Financial incentives to encourage vehicle purchases alongside
initial infrastructure provision are necessary to kick-start this
market and promote private sector expansion.
34. The DfT is committed to supporting the expansion
of the plug-in vehicle market. A number of witnesses told us
that this support was important to foster the manufacturing industry
in the UK. Industry representatives told us that positive messages
from Government had created an environment where vehicle manufacturers
were encouraged to base production in the UK,
which led industry to invest in the UK and supported green growth.
This commitment is outlined in the Coalition Agreement. However,
changes to the financial incentives to support plug-in vehicle
purchases in the March 2012 Budget have caused concern in industry
about the consistency of Government support for this market.
It appears that different departments are sending out different
messages on this subject. The
Government must avoid creating instability in the plug-in vehicle
market through a lack of consistency between departments in their
approaches to financial incentives for plug-in vehicles and adopt
a more coordinated approach to these incentives across Whitehall.
35. The Government has spent £11 million on
providing infrastructure and financial incentives that at present
benefit only a handful of vehicle owners. It anticipates that
there will be hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries from these
schemes within the next few decades. If these figures are achieved,
then this will be welcome progress in helping to reduce carbon
emissions from road transport. However, the Government should
not sit back and hope that these projections are achieved. It
should set milestones in the medium and long-term so as to measure
whether this policy is effective and providing value for money.
We recommend that as part
of the next spending review, the Government set milestones for
the numbers of plug-in cars it expects to see on the roads so
that the success of its low carbon vehicles strategy can be assessed
within that spending review period.
36. We have heard potentially conflicting reasons
for the DfT's underspend on low carbon vehicles. The Secretary
of State told us that the underspend on low carbon vehicles was
due to lower than expected take up, whilst the Minister told us
that consumer demand was progressing as forecast and the private
sector had provided more funding for infrastructure than expected.
We have also found mixed information about the location and number
of chargepoints. The DfT told us that over 1,600 had been installed
by Plugged-In Places, yet their National Chargepoint Registry
has fewer than 500 entries. It is difficult to see how the DfT
can be targeting infrastructure and spending to the appropriate
areas if it does not have a clear picture of current provision.
There needs to be greater strategic oversight of the spending
on low carbon vehicles and related infrastructure.
67 Q 69-71 Back