An influential politician has called on the mayor of London Sadiq Khan to scrap plans to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and instead install rapid charging points.

According to Shaun Bailey, a member of the London Assembly’s environment committee, ‘charge rage’ could soon take place in the capital if the predicted level of demand for new points is not met.

Bailey said the phenomenon, which started in the US, could spread to the UK as drivers compete over a limited number of points.

His new report, ‘Clearing the Air’, found that the installation of charging points is occurring “at an unsatisfactory slow rate” compared with the uptake of EVs. According to figures published by the Department for Transport, electric vehicle (EV) sales have increased by 172% in the last five years, while current charging unit installation rates mean there could be just one available for every 15 EVs by 2031.

Last month, Transport for London allocated boroughs £4.5 million to install 1,500 units by the middle of next year, but Bailey bemoaned the units’ charging speed, claiming the new points will take between six and eight hours to fully recharge an EV.

In his report, he recommended the mayor spend £30 million to install a network of 1,579 rapid charging points – which can charge vehicles in half an hour – instead of the planned expansion of the ULEZ to cover the North and South circular roads.

Bailey claimed the expansion “will have a negligible effect on air quality”, while he added his plan could “support an industry that could single-handedly clean up London’s dirty air”.

“If London is going to fully support the adoption of electric vehicles we need adequate charging infrastructure on our roads,” he said. “This report found London is not preparing to provide the right number and quality of charging points to meet predicted demand and on current levels drivers could be left squabbling over sockets. The adoption of electric vehicles would go a long way to improving London’s air quality. In contrast, the mayor’s plans to expand the ULEZ will have a negligible impact on emissions.”
He added: “That is why I’m urging the Mayor to abandon those plans and instead invest some of the money in improved electric charging infrastructure.”