Homebuilders ‘lobbied against proposed electric car chargers in new homes in England’

Britain’s biggest homebuilders have privately lobbied for the government to drop rules requiring electric car chargers to be installed in every new home in England, documents have revealed.

FTSE 100 construction companies Barratt Developments, Berkeley Group and Taylor Wimpey were among the companies that opposed the policy in response to an official consultation seen by the Guardian. The “blatant lobbying efforts” have been criticized by Transport & Environment, a campaign group.

Swapping fossil fuel-powered cars for zero-emission models is seen by scientists, environmental activists and government as the key to achieving net-zero carbon emissions, alongside increased public and active transportation . However, the lack of chargers is seen as a barrier to adoption.

Rules requiring all new homes to have a charger were announced by Boris Johnson in November 2021 as the headline policy in a speech to business leaders. While details were eclipsed at the time, as the former prime minister skittered through his speech with a riff on children’s cartoon character Peppa Pig, the government hopes 145,000 charging stations will be installed under the rules.

However, homebuilders who responded expressed opposition to the policy, citing cost concerns. They also warned that the mandatory installation could lock owners into outdated technology, that there could be a risk of electric shocks with some car chargers, and even that the plan could prevent owners from choosing between cars with different types of sockets used in Asia and Europe.

Taylor Wimpey warned that installing loaders could lead to fewer homes being built. “We see practical and financial challenges associated with the proposed approach,” he writes, citing “significant uncertainty about financial costs.”

The Berkeley Group said it did not believe chargers would be needed at every parking spot because people would be charging at work or while “going to the gym”.

However, auto industry leaders say home charging is more attractive to users because it eliminates the need to search for available power outlets during the day and because smart tariffs allow people to charge at night. , when energy is the cheapest.

Homebuilders argued that their responsibilities should end with the laying of “cable raceways” in homes, which could then be used for charging points, saying this would avoid the installation of unused infrastructure. In most cases, these would be simple – and cheap – pipes or gutters that could then route the cables to the parking spaces.

Matt Finch, Head of Policy for T&E UK, said: “It is absurd that homebuilders have tried to stall progress and slow the march to net zero. In the future, all cars will be electric, and future-proofing new homes with charging infrastructure is an obvious step to take.

“The government should be applauded for resisting these blatant lobbying efforts.”

Cost concerns were a common theme in warnings from home builders. Barratt said mandatory chargers could cost him up to £63m. Vistry Group, which recently changed its name from Bovis Homes, argued the requirement would cost the FTSE 250 company up to £14million.

Details of the lobbying efforts came in freedom of information disclosures obtained by the Guardian, as part of the building industry’s response to ministers consulting new charging station rules in late 2019 – before that the government does not introduce the measure.

Spokespersons for the Berkeley Group and Taylor Wimpey said they support measures to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles. Companies are now installing charging stations in accordance with the law.

Taylor Wimpey’s spokesperson said he had provided “constructive feedback” before the rules were introduced, while arguing that a “wired-only approach” would have reduced the “need for retrofitting in the event of incompatible technology if electric vehicle charging technology progresses”. .

A Barratt spokesperson said his view in 2019 was that there was not “sufficient supply chain capacity to support the full deployment of electric vehicle charging points at scale. national”. Since then, he has worked with the government on regulations that give customers choice while “being practical so industry can deliver at scale”.

Vistry did not respond to a request for comment.

Homebuilders ‘lobbied against proposed electric car chargers in new homes in England’

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