Plans to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 in a bid to encourage people to buy electric vehicles are a “tall order” and will place unprecedented strain on the National Grid, motoring experts have warned.
Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has warned that Britain “can’t carry on” with petrol and diesel cars because of the damage that they are doing to people’s health and the planet.
“There is no alternative to embracing new technology,”
However the AA warned that the National Grid would be under pressure to
“cope with a mass switch-on after the evening rush hour”,
while Which? Car magazine warned that electric cars are currently more expensive and less practical.
According to a National Grid report, peak demand for electricity could add around 30 gigawatts to the current peak of 61GW – an increase of 50 per cent.
The extra electricity needed will be the equivalent of almost 10 times the total power output of the new Hinckley Point C nuclear power station being built in Somerset.
National Grid predicts Britain will become increasingly reliant on imported electricity, which will rise from around 10 per cent of total electricity to around one third, raising questions about energy security.
Just 4 per cent of new car sales are for electric vehicles, and concerns have also been raised about whether Britain will have enough charging points for the new generation of cars.
Diesel drivers on congested roads in towns and cities across the UK face new pollution taxes and could also be barred from travelling at rush hour.
Ministers have identified 81 major roads in 17 towns and cities where urgent action is required because they are in breach of EU emissions standards, putting people’s health at risk.
The air quality strategy urges local authorities to first try to reduce emissions by retrofitting the most polluting diesel vehicles, changing road layouts and removing speed humps.
However it concedes that as a last resort councils will be allowed to impose tough restrictions on the most polluting diesel vehicles as soon as 2020 to bring down the levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions.
The strategy stops short of meeting the demands of motoring groups for a diesel scrappage scheme, under which diesel drivers would receive compensation for trading in their polluting vehicles.
Read more: The Telegraph