Land and property owners across Wales are being advised to start thinking now about 2040 which will herald the ban on the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles across the UK.
With Volvo also announcing that from 2019 all its new cars will be partially or completely battery-powered, brings into focus the seismic shift in the way people across Wales will get about in private vehicles.
Bruton Knowles’ Aled Jenkins believes property owners and developers need to be thinking about the implications right now, as the changes will have enormous impact on how the people of Wales will work, rest and play while throwing an additional burden on the country’s energy generation infrastructure.
The need to act is backed by the fact that some automotive experts are predicting that by the mid-2020s there will be more electric cars than those with internal combustion engines.
Aled said: “Whilst some pressure groups believe 2040 is too far in the distance and that the Government should have done more, our view is that these radical changes will have widespread impact on how we live and work and will need years, if not decades to put in place.
“The planning and delivery needed for the additional demand on our electricity supplies alone makes even this timescale challenging.”
Aled said the switch to alternative energy sources would impact on utilities, infrastructure, land acquisition and development as well as the need to install charge points in homes, offices and public spaces such as car parks.
It also brings into sharp focus proposals for projects such as the Swansea Tidal Lagoon which has a design capacity of 320 megawatts.
He added: “Utilities, CPOs, infrastructure and land acquisition and development are specialist skills and land owners need to ensure they are on the front foot as the Government’s target date is, in business terms, not as far away as some members of the public seem to think.
“At present you would not be able to travel say from South to North Wales as well as rural areas in a purely electric car. We will therefore need an enormous number of charging points – both private and public – requiring significant investment plus alterations to current development patterns.
“Offices with parking will need to include charge points and all new homes will also need a provision for owners to power up their vehicles. Then there’s the consideration of upgrading current stock to include charge points.
“The only alternative to flooding South Wales with charging points and more power stations is to change the pattern of land use and reduce the need for car borne transport.
“The creation of more “nodes” or concentrations of development plus the building of the South Wales Metro now look set to become even more important policy tools.
“There would be a consequential reduction in petrol filling stations, which would free up brownfield sites for other uses.
“Finally, the move away from petrol or diesel vehicles will also stimulate the alternative energy sector. For instance Hydrogen cells could play a key role in the Government’s Brave New World.
“All these electric cars will need charging hubs and large volumes of power supply, which won’t be available from current infrastructure and particularly in rural areas.
“There will be a need for additional power and a burden on the national grid so renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal could also provide an alternative to conventional electricity generation methods and is why proposals for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon need the green light now.
“While the debate rages about the longevity of our diesel and petrol vehicles it is easy to overlook the enormous impact the transition to electrically powered cars will have on every aspect of our private and working lives.
“Providing a workable and economic alternative means of transport and commuting is therefore a significant challenge that the property industry sector and Welsh Government needs to embrace, and quickly.”