The shadow minister criticizes the DfT on the accessibility of electric car charging


The Ministry of Transport declined our repeated invitations to indicate whether providers of public charging stations today have a duty to make arrangements for people with disabilities under the Equality Act.

Auto Express is campaigning for a rapid acceleration in the provision of accessible public charging infrastructure, and we have requested a formal declaration after highlighting the issue of law-abiding charging station providers. The DfT told us it was not ready to comment specifically, but offered a generic statement detailing its longer-term ambitions on current accessibility. However, shadow green transport minister Kerry McCarthy and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been more open.

“People with disabilities should never be considered after the fact when it comes to infrastructure planning. It is shocking that after years of taxpayer funding for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, the government still has not established regulations to ensure the accessibility of chargers, ”McCarthy told Auto Express.

“The Equality Act (2010) clearly states that there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged. The continued lack of regulation or guidance to ensure this is the case with charging infrastructure is a clear breach of this obligation on the part of the government. This is especially true here, as alternatives to car use may not always be available or appropriate for people with disabilities.

The shadow minister said the government’s consultation on measures to improve consumer experiences – including those with accessibility issues – ended more than six months ago, with no official response.

“At a crucial time for the transition to electric vehicles, the government needs to harness its role in providing nationwide charging infrastructure,” she added. “The lack of regulation and long-term planning means that many areas still do not have enough charging stations. In addition, charging stations are often unreliable or difficult to use and inaccessible to people with disabilities. The government must stop dragging its feet and continue to provide the charging infrastructure that we need. “

How the Ministry of Transportation could make a difference

The DfT recently announced a package of grants worth £ 620million for electric cars and charging infrastructure, and with thousands of charging stations installed each year, we asked if the ministry is taking action. to ensure that recipients of its funding protect the access rights of people with disabilities. supported projects.

The DfT declined to comment beyond its statement below, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission – the UK’s national equality body – provided an unequivocal statement on the responsibilities of charging station providers under the current law: “Electric vehicles are essential in the fight against climate change. They must be accessible to everyone, ”he said. “All businesses, including those that install public charging stations for electric vehicles, need to make reasonable adjustments so that people with disabilities are not unfairly disadvantaged. Otherwise, they risk breaking equality law and being forced to reinstall more accessible charging stations later.

“It is important that everyone, including people with disabilities, have the same opportunities to do their part to fight climate change.

What Auto Express asked for:

Does the DfT / government agree or disagree with disability activists’ assertion that providers, installers and / or operators of public electric vehicle charging stations currently have an obligation under the existing legislation of the Equality Act, to arrange for disabled users?

Response from the Ministry of Transport:

“We are committed to making the UK’s electric vehicle charging network accessible to everyone, with inclusive designed charging stations available to drivers across the UK.

We have partnered with Motability, a national disability charity, to task the British Standards Institute (BSI) to develop accessibility standards for public electric vehicle charging stations across the UK.

“These standards, which will be finalized in the summer of 2022, will provide the advisory industry and drivers with a clear new definition of public charging stations for electric vehicles” fully accessible “,” partially accessible “and” not accessible “, allowing drivers to more easily identify which charging stations are suitable for their needs.

In addition, we are seeking views as part of the consultation on the review of regulations on the future of transport on proposals to impose accessibility standards for UK public charging stations, including the area around the parked vehicle / charging point. “

Auto Express Equal Access for All Campaign

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