Campaigners are calling for more to be done to improve access to charging points for electric vehicles across Huntingdonshire.

According to data from Open Charge Map, a global database of electric vehicle charging points, there are 12 charging locations in Huntingdonshire, catering for the 726 licensed electric vehicles in the district.

That equates to 16.53 charging locations per 1,000 vehicles.

The Government is encouraging councils and businesses to improve charging infrastructure and has made funds available through its £2.5million residential charge point scheme.

In 2018, the Government also launched its Road to Zero strategy, which aims for half of new cars and 40 per cent of new vans to be ultra-low emission by 2030.

By 2040, all new cars and vans should also be electric or effectively zero-emission and new petrol and diesel cars will be phased out, the Government has said.

However, campaigners believe the Government is in danger of missing that target unless more is done to encourage better infrastructure for drivers of electric vehicles.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: "RAC research has found the lack of charging infrastructure is one of the three main barriers for electric vehicle take-up, along with range anxiety and high upfront vehicle costs.

"Clearly, we need to improve this access to charge points as a whole, but special attention needs to be given to installing more rapid chargers on the strategic road network as well as adding charging capability at car parks where people spend longer periods, such as at shopping and leisure centre car parks.

"We'd also like to see local authorities work more closely with the Government to find on-street charging solutions. The key is to give drivers the confidence to go electric, which will not happen quickly unless they are given the right incentives to do so, alongside easy access to reliable charging infrastructure."

The number of licensed electric vehicles in Huntingdonshire in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 41. In the third quarter of 2018, that number had grown to 726, an increase of 1,671 per cent.

Bridget Fox, Sustainable Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: "We need a nationwide fast charging network on motorways and A roads managed by Highways England and in rural areas Government support should help to provide a charging point for every community. There is more being done in towns and cities, but there are practical challenges in providing a public charging network without encroaching on pavements or competing for kerb space with bikes and buses."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Our vision is to have one of the best infrastructure networks in the world for electric vehicles, and we want charge points to be accessible, affordable and secure.

"Our Road to Zero strategy sets out our commitment to massively expand electric vehicle infrastructure, while the £400million public-private Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will see thousands more charge points installed across the UK. This is part of a £1.5billion programme of investment to put the UK at the forefront of the transition to zero emission vehicles."

Milton Keynes (138) has the highest number of charging points in the UK, followed by Westminster (131), and Cornwall (115).

By way of comparison, Fenland has five charging locations for its 106 registered vehicles (47.17 per 1,000 vehicles), and East Cambridgeshire has six charging points for 220 vehicles (27.27 per 1,000 vehicles).

Councillor Marge Beuttell, executive councillor for operations and regulations, said:

"The council's existing electric vehicle charging points were installed as part of the

Source East network, which has since collapsed, and so they are no longer supported. "The council will replace and increase our electric vehicle charging provision through its off-street car parking strategy, approved in October 2018.

"However, the first priority of this strategy is the installation of 'pay for what you use' and card/contactless payment facilities as this will benefit a greater proportion of car park users, giving them convenience and ease of use, and also encourage parking for longer to support our market towns. Once this work has been completed, the council will progress our investment in electrical charging, we anticipate this being spring 2020."