Switching on to green cars

Special number plates could denote privileged access for vehicles to bus lanes


Electric vehicles (EVs) are alternative fuel cars designed, and introduced, in an effort to substantially reduce the percent- age of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to road transport. Categorised as a type of ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV), EVs can range from plug-in hybrids, which combine a small battery, internal combustion engine and electric motor, to all-electric ve- hicles, which are powered solely by mains electricity. In recent years, both the Scot-

tish and UK Governments have increased their focus on EVs, stating their intention to pro- mote air quality initiatives, the uptake of fuel-efficient motoring and, ultimately, build upon the UK’s charging infrastructure.

We are also the first electricity

network operator to map out the impact electric vehicle uptake will have on Scotland’s commuter towns; we have won Network Innovation Competition funding to map transport and electric- ity networks to predict where electric vehicle chargers will need installed, and we are also a partner in a ground-breaking project to ensure the security of electricity supply through renew- ables, should the worst happen, and the whole grid need to be kick-started. Green electricity is the energy

of the future. SP Energy Networks is the utility of the future. We are certainly not standing still. l

Scott Mathieson is Director, Network Regulation and Planning, at SP Energy Networks.

l September 2017: Scottish gov- ernment announces intention to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032, with Nicola Sturgeon pledging to expand the number of electric charg- ing points in rural, urban and domestic settings, and convert the A9 into Scotland’s first fully electric-enabled highway. l 27 November 2017: UK government publishes Industrial Strategy and vows to “support electric vehicles through £400m charging infrastructure invest- ment and an extra £100m to extend the plug-in car grant”; l February 2018: UK govern- ment makes a further £30 million investment in ‘Vehicle 2 Grid’, a technology enabling consumers to feed the energy stored in their electric vehicles back into the national grid at times of peak demand. l 6 July 2018: HMRC releases

a policy paper designed to encourage employers to provide charging facilities for ‘plug-in’ vehicles at or near the work- place by proposing the removal of Income Tax and National Insurance liability for workplace charging. l 9 July 2018: UK Department for Transport publishes ‘Road to Zero Strategy’, outlining their plan to end the sale of conven- tional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. l 19 July 2018: Te Automated and Electric Vehicles Act re- ceives Royal Assent

As indicated by the Govern-

ment, the transition to EV technology will be market led and will throw up an array of new legal issues for sector par- ticipants, including EV installers, car manufacturers, local authori- ties, commercial and residential developers, electricity providers, supply chains and consumers. Mass uptake of electric ve-

hicles will see both EV installers and network operators negoti- ate lease arrangements with Scottish landowners, in order to regulate their rights of access in, through and across private land for the purposes of installing and maintaining charge points, and securing a connection to the grid. Tird party consents may also be required where, for ex- ample, title to the land is subject to a secured interest. New electric licensing schemes

could mean that corporate enti- ties seeking to offer charging ser- vices to consumers will require to enter into contractual arrange- ments with existing electricity suppliers or, alternatively, take steps to become licensed provid- ers themselves.

Te 2018 Act has also ex-

tended the traditional motor insurance settlement framework to recognise claims for damages caused by the fault of an auto- mated vehicle itself, as opposed to its driver. It follows that, where an accident is caused by a vehicle in self-drive mode, in- surers will find themselves liable for damages stemming from that accident, with their only pros- pect of recovery being a claim against the vehicle manufac- turer or other third party. Te passing of the 2018 Act is

a welcome development for the UK automotive industry and looks to create an exciting and lucrative market opportunity for solicitors, particularly those operating in the renewable energy, property and planning sectors. Ahead of September’s zero-

emission vehicle summit, and in an effort to boost public aware- ness of clean vehicle technology, Teresa May announced the Government’s proposals to fit special, green number plates on low emission vehicles. If imple- mented, the proposals will see drivers of ULEVs receive special privileges, including access to special bus lanes, charging bays and low emission zones. Whether the promise of these

badges of honour will see a surge in zero-emission vehicle sales does, of course, remain to be seen. What is clear, however, is that initiatives like these will be critical in accelerating the UK’s transition away from petrol and diesel, towards the electric vehicle revolution.

Alyson Shaw is a trainee solicitor at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP


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