In this article, originally published in Estates Gazette in January 2022, Amy Allen, Knowledge Lawyer in our Real Estate team, reflects on the latest announcements in relation to electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
In November 2021, the prime minister announced the introduction of building regulations (to be laid before parliament later this year) which will result in electric vehicle charging points being required by law in certain buildings and developments.
As discussed in Electric vehicles: think before charging ahead, 2021 was already seeing a surge of interest from individuals and organisations wanting to make sure their properties are EV charging-ready. The prime minister’s announcement will add to this surge, with owners ensuring that their buildings and developments are compliant with the regulations.
While this is a welcome change to reflect the UK’s leading position in the journey to net zero, it presents many considerations for developers who, under the new regulations, will have to include charging points and infrastructure at scale across all future residential and non-residential developments.
Here, I examine the application of the new regulations and their potential effect on the real estate sector.
The new measures will require:
The measures also deal with technical details such as charge point standards, including a minimum power rating of 7kW.
Concerns raised during consultation mean the government will not yet introduce a requirement for one charge point in relation to all existing non-residential properties with more than 20 parking spaces, as a more tailored approach is needed.
The government also set out a list of exemptions to the requirements, which include:
The regulations will affect a wide range of people and organisations, not least:
Private residential property owners
Any individual constructing a new home with parking spaces on site will need to ensure a charge point is installed. Not only will installing a charge point increase the cost of a building project, there will be increased grid connection costs (albeit with a cap of £3,600).
Property developers (including housing associations)
For developments where building notices or full plans are already in place, there is proposed a period between the laying and coming into force when the regulations will not apply.
However, property developers involved in acquiring sites for new development and/or renovating existing sites (residential, non-residential and mixed use) will have to factor into their schemes the cost of installing charge points in line with the regulations.
Apart from increased costs relating to construction of the charge points, leases to the charge point operators, grid connection costs and additional planning requirements, developers will also need to ensure there is sufficient grid capacity to deliver the requirements. Where this is not the case, alternative solutions may need to be considered.
The government expects developers to “consider agile solutions to network capacity issues to manage grid capacity (eg, introducing battery storage on housing sites or load management systems)… to ensure policy requirements can be met in all but exceptional circumstances”.
All of these additional costs may put off or even exclude some small developers from acquiring new development sites.
Distribution network operators
The electricity industry and stakeholders are working with Ofgem to consider the implications of EV policy for networks and bringing forward investment in generation capacity to meet demand. New requirements for smart charging should also reduce the need for costly network reinforcement.
However, with DNOs inundated with grid connection requests as a result of the new requirements, it will be interesting to see if consumers’ demands can be dealt with adequately.
Electric vehicles are an important factor in the UK remaining at the forefront of the response to climate change. The new regulations are a vital tool to help develop the infrastructure needed to encourage business and consumers to adopt EVs.
However, with the current number of EV chargers in the UK at approximately 29,000 and expected to rise exponentially as a result of the new building regulations, it remains to be seen how people, organisations and the electricity industry will cope and evolve.