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DfT unveils mobility regulatory revolution to capitalise on ‘unprecedented’ shift in transport

Image: LEVC.

Image: LEVC.

The government has launched a major review of UK transport laws as it bids to capitalise on an “unprecedented” shift in low carbon, urban transport.

The Department for Transport this morning launched its ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’ document, building on the back of a comprehensive Call for Evidence held last summer. It argues that given the increasing speed of innovation in transport, now is the “time to reflect” on what’s to deliver.

A crucial element of the transport is an “ambitious review” of transport regulation which is intended to remove barriers to the adoption of emerging low carbon technologies, specifically those with a role to play in urban centres and the Last Mile economy.

The review will have four priority areas, specifically micromobility vehicles, ‘mobility as a service’ business models, transport data and modernising legislation.

It has also established nine principles which are to underpin the government’s approach to facilitating innovation in urban mobility, building on from a similar policy adopted by the energy department when it signalled the end of the so-called energy trilemma late last year.

Those principles include the need for new mobility innovations to benefit all parts of the UK and societal areas, that emerging mobility services must contribute towards the transition towards zero emissions and that transport data must be shared wherever appropriate.

It’s hoped that the regulatory review will result in a “fertile environment for innovations and investment”, to be enabled by flexible and responsive regulation.

Alongside the review the government has also launched a £90 million competition for cities in the UK to deliver so-called ‘Future Mobility Zones’. Up to four cities will be selected to demonstrate and prove new mobility services, modes and models for application elsewhere. Cities have until 24 May 2019 to submit outline proposals to DfT.

Transport minister Jesse Norman laid the document in a written statement to parliament, writing that the UK is in the “early stages of a transport revolution.

“For much of the past half century, many of the improvements to transport have been gradual and incremental, focused on increasing the capacity of existing infrastructure to meet growing demand. Yet today important new technologies are emerging that will transform transport and travel.

“Such fundamental change in transport within a relatively short period of time, and across so many different technologies, is unprecedented. The sector is at a point of inflection. The window of opportunity is currently open; but for how much longer it will be so, no one can say.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity here – to put this country at the heart of the next mobility revolution, and deliver a cleaner, greener, more productive and more inclusive country for future generations,” he said.

But while the regulatory review has been broadly welcomed, others in the power sector have remarked that widespread electrification of transport will require far more than new, more flexible laws.

Louis Shaffer, distributed energy segment leader for EMEA at Eaton, said: “The transition to widespread e-mobility requires the right infrastructure and behaviours, and this must consider smart charging and how to encourage the right consumer charging practices.

“To manage the increase in energy demand, market changes are needed which engender new forms of flexibility. This goes beyond planning a national network of charging facilities –meeting high levels of consumer ‘away from home’ EV charging demand requires charging facilities at the workplace, in public car parks and at the supermarket.”

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