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Funding support helps Scotland go green

Date: 17 July 2017   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

The Scottish government is offering generous levels of support to businesses wanting to add electric vehicles onto their fleets.  Last month, Transport Scotland announced it would put aside £8.2m to support the Low Carbon Transport Loan Fund.

As part of the scheme, which is administered by the Energy Saving Trust (EST)'s Scottish arm, businesses can apply for interest-free loans of up to £100,000 to help procure EVs and telematics devices.

Applications need to be received by the EST before next March, when the programme will expire. "We foresee the interest-free loans as being a popular choice with those who are keen to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of their fleet," Matthew Eastwood, EST Scotland's head of transport told BusinessCar. "This fund is a huge step towards the electric vehicle roll-out which I believe will prompt an increase in the availability of electric vehicle facilities across rural and urban areas."

To qualify, vehicles must not cost more than £35,000 each and have to be eligible for the UK-wide Office of Low Emission Vehicle-funded plug-in car and van grants, which offer up to £4,500 off the price of cars and 20% off the price of vans, up to a maximum of £8,000, respectively.

In addition, the British government's Workplace Charging Grant, which offers a £300 reduction on individual charging point sockets, up to a maximum of 20, remains valid alongside the loan.

The loan is open to businesses of all sizes that operate in Scotland, although they don't necessarily need to be registered in the country. Before applying for the interest-free loan - which has repayment terms of up to six years - companies have to pass a Sustainable Transport Review. The review entails a member of the EST team working with the firm to assess its current travel behaviours before writing up a report on how the company can be more sustainable, such as using public transport more, replacing vehicles with EVs and using video-conference tools.

Individuals can also apply for a loan of up to £35,000 with the same repayment terms.
The loan schemes form part of the Scottish government's Switched On Scotland Phase Two programme, which aims to rid the country of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2050.

"I am delighted that Switched On Scotland has reached this critical second phase. Only through effective partnership working can we secure the environmental and transport vision for Scotland that we aim to realise - a greener Scotland, with improved air quality, improvements in public health and lower costs for consumers and businesses through the increased use of electric vehicles," said Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf.
He added: "There has never been a better time to discover the benefits, explore the support available through the fund, and make a switch to electric vehicles."

The scheme ultimately aims to reduce the cost of owning and driving EVs and promote electric vehicles in a way in which they are "widely recognised as a preferred alternative to fossil-fuelled vehicles", while also growing the nation's network of public charging points.
John Pryor, chairman of the Association of Car Fleet Operators, welcomed the move by Transport Scotland: "Financial help to encourage fleets to introduce plug-in vehicles to their fleets is to be welcomed. ACFO has always been of the view that plug-in vehicles have a role to play on fleets so long as the total cost of ownership, vehicle range and convenience factors all align. If that is the case there is no reason for fleets and company car drivers not to embrace plug-in vehicles," he told BusinessCar.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders also backed the loan scheme, with director Tamzen Isacsson telling BusinessCar: "Manufacturers have invested billions developing new plug-in cars and vans, with more than 30 different models now on sale. However, while demand has grown rapidly in recent years, they still represent less than 2% of the market. If this is to change, we need greater awareness about the benefits of these technologies, more investment in recharging infrastructure and long-term commitment from government for infrastructure funding and purchase incentives. Transport Scotland's latest initiative is a positive step in this direction."