Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a series of U-turns on a number of the UK's net zero pledges, including the delay of phasing out new diesel and petrol fuelled cars and vans. As many will be aware, the previous target envisaged a 2030 ban on the sale of such vehicles; Sunak's announcement pushes this date back to 2035, in line with a 'new approach' to Britain's climate policy. This follows Michael Gove's, the Secretary of State for Levelling up, comments earlier this year, insisting that the 2030 target was 'immovable'.

The announcement has been met with frustration by the BPF, with Chief Executive Melanie Leech, describing the changes as "the opposite of what we need", particularly for property owners who have already made long-term plans and financial commitments to ensure they play their part in meeting the UK's climate change commitments. Car manufacturers have reacted similarly with Ford calling for "ambition, commitment and consistency" in the wake of the Government's U-turns.

The original 2030 target for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars saw a rapid increase in the production of electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as a pledge by the Government to install 300,000 electric vehicle public charging points across Britain. Progress has been slow, as shown by the latest DfT figures; as of 1 July 2023 there were just 44,020 EVCP's available in the UK, and at its current rate, the target will be achieved 10 years behind schedule. Major investment is also required to the UK’s existing grid infrastructure (including the increased implementation of battery storage) to manage increased demand as well as the increased contribution to the UK’s energy mix from renewable sources.

As at the time of writing, the Government's EVCP target remains unchanged, as do the regulations designed to make the private sector pick up some of the shortfall, which require a minimum number of charging points on new developments/ material changes of use.

The immediate effect of Sunak's announcement will be a lack of certainty for landlords and developers as they try to navigate the policy shift and changing timetables, against a backdrop of previous Government pledges. Frustration is to be expected from those who have already committed expense and effort complying with regulations. But while the changing interim milestones lack certainty, our landlord and developer clients continue to show an intention to ‘go green’ regardless, with the delivery of EVCPs forming part of well-established net zero strategies for their real-estate portfolios, particularly for institutional clients with existing, publicised sustainability targets.