Wrigleys looks at the ways that electric vehicles could benefit estates and rural landowners.
It seems as though society is in for a sea change when it comes to our beloved combustion engine:
- The government announced in 2017 that it would ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
- There is currently growing pressure from environmental groups to move the date of that ban to 2030.
- Sadiq Khan has formally stated that he wants London to become a zero emission city and has set up a task force dedicated to boosting its infrastructure to rapidly increase the number of electric car charging points.
The general feeling in the electrical vehicles industry is that the tipping point where the purchase of electric cars will exceed those of petrol and diesel cars is no more than ten years away. The technology still has some way to go but most experts expect sufficient technological improvement to happen over the next few years, at which point electrically powered vehicles will soon become more attractive than those powered by petrol or diesel.
The expansion of electric charge points goes hand in had with the expansion of electrical vehicles. The industry believes that most users will be "grazers not gorgers" i.e. people will constantly top up batteries rather than running them down to virtually empty. This means that people will need a number of easy and quick access to charge points rather than relying on one or two regular supply spots where they can recharge almost drained batteries over a long period of time.
New electric charge points are expected to be provided by a mix of retail estates, employers, landlords and housing developers. There is certainly scope for rural areas to provide some facilities for charging electric vehicles in small business parks or rural housing developments and possibly elsewhere. In the right circumstances, estate owners could either supply the land or the relevant easements for the necessary infrastructure to be put in, a bit like they have done historically with wind farm or solar PV (photovoltaic) developments.
A large cost of the infrastructure is the district network operator (DNO) grid connection, so estates or other landowners that already have a DNO connection of sufficient capacity may find themselves in an advantageous position. The existence of an existing DNO connection could cut the costs of installing charge points hugely. This could even be the case if a tenant rather than the landowner has the DNO connection – it still makes the land near the DNO connection more attractive commercially, provided a deal can be done with the tenant.
There has been talk of the synergy between existing renewable developments and electrical vehicle charge points, although nothing concrete has come of that yet. There does seem to be a natural fit, however, as making use of the existing DNO connection would be an attractive option.
The government has published intentions to move to a smarter grid of which EVs are an important factor.
It is unlikely that rural estates would want to put in the infrastructure themselves because it involves a high level of regulation and needs considerable expertise to navigate the regulatory requirements, of which many be subject to change in the near future. However, they may find themselves approached by operators for land or for consent to diversify use under a lease or to allow cables to be laid.
We are well placed to advise estates who are approached in relation to electric charge points and DNO connections.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.