Transport is the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 24% to the UK's total emissions in 2020. The Government's Transport Decarbonisation Plan (published in July 2021) sets out the proposed pathway to achieve net zero in all areas of transport. This isn’t just about the transition to electric vehicles, but covers wider goals such as electrification of railway lines to deliver a net zero railway by 2050, plotting a net zero course for the UK domestic maritime sector and supporting the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel.
The strategy also highlights the need to increase the share of trips taken by public transport, cycling and walking (with associated benefits in public health and wellbeing). This is likely to be reflected in local transport policies, planning requirements and building design – helping our clients create more sustainable places.
The UK Government has already committed to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, with all new cars and vans to be zero emissions by 2035. Similar commitments are planned for new and non-zero emission HGVs (subject to consultation).
The recent changes to Building Regulations: Part S mean that electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints must be installed on all new-build commercial and domestic buildings. There are also requirements to install EV chargepoints to buildings undergoing a material change of use or major renovations. Alongside targeted legislation like Building Regulations, sales figures demonstrate that EVs are forming an increasing share of the UK new vehicle market. That drives demand for EV chargepoints at home, at places of work and wider destinations.
We work closely with organisations measuring carbon emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3 (GHG Protocol) and helping them deliver on targets for emissions reduction. Many businesses are already looking to transition to electric fleets to minimise Scope 1 emissions, and to be able to operate in low emissions zones. That creates challenges for vehicle charging, planning routes, fleet numbers and costs.
We advise our clients on implementing changes to fleet strategy, including new leasing models, retrofitting charging infrastructure and accounting for home charging.
In a rapidly developing area, it is important to have advisers who properly understand the market. We advise on the full range of issues necessary to support the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure - including navigating available grant funding, procuring utility connections, negotiating necessary property rights and procuring installation contracts and operation and maintenance arrangements. We also provide specialist advice on connected issues such as electricity licencing requirements, data protection, health and safety and consumer protection.
We help developers procure suitable EV chargepoints and service providers for new-build schemes, and also navigate the complexities of retrofitting EV chargepoints to existing buildings. That includes support in dealing with applications from tenants and management companies, advising on licences and drafting appropriate changes to estate regulations. We also ensure leases and tenancy agreements contain suitable drafting to allow the future recovery of associated service charges.
EV chargepoints create new opportunities for revenue streams, not just from reselling electricity but also from connected services such as advertising, hospitality and retail. Increase footfall and prolonged dwell time can also help support wider place making initiatives.
As we transition towards the electrification of transport, Government regulation, policies and grants are evolving, requiring clients to act swiftly to capitalise on available grants. We help clients navigate the changing regulatory landscape and mitigate potential risks.
Led by our cross-sector Energy & Sustainability team, we bring together lawyers from across the business to provide seamless advice on EV strategy and the practical issues relating EV charging infrastructure.
We advise a range of clients – including residential and commercial landlords, local authorities and housing associations on strategic decision-making. This includes reviewing existing contracts, negotiating bespoke contractual documentation and providing regulatory advice. We help our clients to make the most of new opportunities in this emerging market.
The direction of travel is clear – the uptake in electric vehicles is increasing. Our expertise across sectors helps your business adapt to the electric transition.
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