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Seven key legal insights in the evolving EV landscape

While EV adoption is picking up pace across the UK, the public charger roll out is not keeping the same momentum. And with an ambitious government target on the horizon for 2030, it won’t be long before new petrol and diesel cars will be removed from the market altogether. The trouble is, it’s not just about fast-tracking approvals of EV infrastructure. What operators often don’t realise, is that strategies need to be more streamlined from the outset. And all too often, we’re seeing how legal oversights in the early stages of planning are creating significant stalls on EV charge point installations. Here, Georgina Rudak – Head of Legal at Trenches Law – delves deeper into the importance of wayleaves in building an EV future, and offers some food-for-thought on other emerging market insights. 

 1. Wayleaves are not being talked about enough

Without a legal agreement in place, EV charge point installations simply can’t happen. The trouble is, not enough people understand the need in the first place – and the result of this catastrophic oversight is that the progress is being hindered significantly.

Above all else, this is because wayleaves are often very complex and time-consuming to navigate – unless there’s a specialist on hand to streamline the process. But with targets having already been reduced, more must be done to help build the narrative.

 2. The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in 2030

While the Government’s 10-point ‘green industrial revolution’ is set to bring significant benefits to our planet, it seems like nothing but a pipedream at times. That’s because only around 42,000 public charge points have been installed of the proposed 300,000 so far.

If people are forced to make the switch to EV, they need the infrastructure in place to facilitate this. While building on private land will play a key role in enhancing progress, the need to obtain permissions (wayleaves) is proving to be a barrier for operators.

 3. Legislation surrounding electricity wayleaves is poor

The protection for electricity wayleaves is non-existent, with the only governance falling under the Electricity Act. To support the roll out, there needs to be an equivalent of the code for telco builds.

If you sign a wayleave under the Electronic Communications Code (ECC), for example, you have statutory rights – with strong termination provisions, the ability to assign the agreement to an incoming person, upgrading rights, and so on.

Electricity wayleaves, on the other hand, work as more of a personal lease – which is a much lengthier and more complex procedure.

 4. Range anxiety is evolving

The fear of running out of power before reaching a nearby charging point is very real for EV drivers – and one of the primary barriers to increasing uptake. Yet, emerging narratives in the industry suggest that the notion of ‘range anxiety’ is evolving.

Due to the lack of infrastructure, drivers are now feeling the effects of ‘charging anxiety’. By this, we’re referring to the worry that consumers won’t find a charging station at all, that it won’t work, or that they will be met with queues of other drivers waiting to use power. To put it simply, the demand must be met with more supply.

 5. The ‘average Joe’ is being left behind in the EV roll-out

Because operators don’t require the same permissions to install on public land, retail forecourts are reaping the rewards of the roll-out. But the general population who live in a residential house or flat – which we often refer to as a multi-dwelling unit (MDU) – are being left behind.

While plans for new homes to require charge point facilities were recently proposed, an article by The Guardian suggests that some of Britain’s biggest housebuilders privately lobbied for this rule to be ditched. For flat occupiers and property renters, a Government grant scheme offers some level of support, but the solution remains largely unsolved.

 6. History is repeating itself

Throughout the telecoms industry, we’ve already seen operators struggling to connect MDUs to full fibre – not least because of the intricacy of the build.

And if EV infrastructure also needs to go into these properties, the same issue will inevitably arise – if not on a larger scale, because electricity is undeniably more complex than a fibre optic cable. So, why is the EV market not taking notes?

 7. Workers are facing increasing pressures to adapt

With organisations like British Gas committing to a carbon neutral future, employees have no option but to use the resources available to conduct their work.

It’s all well and good being able to charge company vans at a central hub, but let’s not forget that this costs time and money for employees. And in a time of such economic uncertainty – worsened by the cost of living crisis – this is difficult territory to navigate.

So, while such initiatives speak volumes when it comes to the sustainability agenda, the lack of accessible EV infrastructure offers up a useful debate about the increasing pressures for workers to adapt.

We’ll have more on the topic of EV as the narrative unfolds. In the meantime, if you need EV, wayleave, or legal services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call: 01256 856 888 or email:

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