The East of England is set to become a haven for electric vehicle owners after being given the green light by government to apply for funding to install around 600 charging points across the region.

As part of the government’s “Plugged in Places” initiative, a consortium of more than 50 businesses and local authorities from across the East of England today heard that its proposed £5.4 million infrastructure project, ‘EValu8’, has been short listed by the government’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). 

Industry leaders and representatives from local government joined together at a summit on Thursday to discuss the next steps for this ground breaking project, with the aim of submitting a full business case to government by the end of October. 

The eight key clusters of Bedford, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, Luton and Hertfordshire, and Thames Gateway South Essex, together with London Stansted Airport, have all been ear-marked as prime locations for plug-in points, supported by a wider charging network.

A final decision is expected from government by December, and if all goes to plan, installation could be underway as soon as spring 2011.  This will ensure that the East of England forms a key part of the UK’s charging network, linking in with the adjacent charging points already being installed in London and Milton Keynes.

 Deborah Cadman OBE, chief executive of EEDA, said:

“The transition to a low carbon economy is a necessity, not a choice. With today’s announcement, the East of England is set to lead the way in providing the infrastructure for local people and businesses to adopt electric vehicles. EEDA has been proud to coordinate this project in partnership with businesses and local authorities – a project that will build upon the East of England’s position as a leader in low carbon innovation, providing the research and development platform to help develop a global electric vehicle economy of the future.” 

It is anticipated that the East of England’s “Plugged in Places” project will set the wheels in motion for an electric vehicle revolution, providing the infrastructure that local people and businesses need to move towards the widespread use of electric vehicles. It could also act as a catalyst for the development of new technologies, services and industries.

Vicky Ford, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East of England, said:

“I am delighted to support this public-private initiative. The East of England often leads the world in researching and developing new ways to meet the energy challenges of the future.  Infrastructure is needed for these new technologies to get out of our laboratories and become a reality on our roads.  We now have the opportunity to provide this infrastructure, using it to test ideas developed here and see them adopted world wide.”

One of the main barriers to people buying electric vehicles has been concerns over range and battery life. The East of England’s “Plugged in Places” proposal has been designed specifically to ensure that local people across the South and East of England are within striking distance of the next plug-in point.

Top 5 facts about electric vehicles

• By 2014, there will be over 30 makes and models of electric vehicles in the UK – including family and passenger cars, sports cars, 4x4 off road vehicles, motor bikes and commercial vehicles

• An electric Citroën Berlingo has just travelled 13,565 km from Shanghai to Paris, including completing 430 km between charges, through the Gobi Desert region

• Many vehicle manufacturers have already developed download “tunes” for electric vehicles. Customers can already choose from a wide range which includes the “Star Wars” theme tune, to personalise your vehicle and let people know you are coming

• Website ‘EV World’, set up by electric vehicle enthusiasts, has more than 10,000 visitors a day from countries across the world

• You will be able to remotely programme your electric vehicle to heat, cool and charge through your smart phone, giving you control even from a distance.