Transport chiefs for the region have approved a £500,000 scheme to install seven new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the region.
But it has prompted calls for ministers to do more to ensure families and businesses are not forced to continue using traditional cars.
“We must tell the government it needs to kickstart this project because it’s expensive,” said Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council.
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“We need the government to understand it has a duty of care to the road population – they must subsidise British manufacturers of EVs.
“It’s good for industry and good for our green credentials, but to back it all up they must invest huge sums in public transport, in buses and get more EVs on the road.
“There’s nothing we can do as [local authority leaders], we’re not going to make Land Rover or Jaguar or Nissan take a pound off the cost of a car because they can’t afford to.”
Cllr Miller was speaking at this afternoon’s (Tuesday, March 16) meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Following a £600,000 grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Local Growth Fund, £100,000 was used to fund an ‘EV Enabling Study’.
The panel approved recommendations from the report to install charging points at locations in each of the seven local authorities which make up the JTC:
County Durham – Middleton In Teesdale Gateshead Town Centre (Church Street) Newcastle – West Denton Leisure Centre North Tyneside – Tynemouth Pool Car Park Northumberland Business Park South Tyneside – South Shields, Dunes Entertainment Centre Sunderland – St Mary’s Multi Storey Car Park
Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, had urged North East leaders to do more to make EVs ‘genuinely affordable’ for families in the region.
But Cllr Miller insisted it was an issue which could only be tackled at a national level.
He added: “I don’t think there’s anything we can do as a region on this EV matter, other than lobby the government and make them appreciate they will have to pay for the discounts to get people using EVs.
“The battery technology just makes them too expensive at the moment.”