New London Architecture

Accelerate transport decarbonisation

Monday 19 February 2024

New London Agenda
Robin Heap, CEO of Zest reflects on their model for EV infrastructure to accelerate transport decarbonisation and encourage long-term behavioural change in response to the New London Agenda.

Road transport emissions pose dual threats to both human health and the environment, contributing to air pollution and the climate emergency. In 2019, approximately 4,000 Londoners died prematurely due to long-term exposure to air pollutants, which also heighten the risk of cancer, asthma, strokes and dementia. Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles have been further proven to exacerbate global warming.

In London, City Hall has collaborated with individual Councils to formulate innovative policy measures which will be crucial for a successful transition to a zero-emissions transport network. The focus is particularly on promoting public transport, cycling, walking and low emission vehicles.

At Zest, we firmly reject the notion that incremental changes will suffice. Rather, we believe that a rapid implementation of transport decarbonisation measures is essential, requiring the active participation of all segments of society.

We envision transport decarbonisation as an opportunity to permanently reshape London’s relationship with travel, encouraging new behaviours and fostering a fresh approach to placemaking across the capital.

But what might this transformation look like?

In 2023, we were proud to sign a contract with Hackney Council to fund, deploy and manage 3,000 EV charge points across the borough’s seven square miles by 2026. The project will be the most concentrated deployment of charge points anywhere in the UK, advancing Hackney’s ambitious and comprehensive transport decarbonisation strategy at zero cost to the council.

Our collaboration leverages Hackney’s urban planning expertise and placemaking vision, alongside Zest’s own specialism in sustainable infrastructure delivery. Through access to the government’s Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF), we’ve been able to finance the steps needed to reshape Hackney’s approach to transport. 

The transition to electric vehicles is in its early adopter phase, primarily driven by those with access to home chargers and company cars. For mainstream adoption, abundant and conveniently located public charging facilities will be crucial. We’ve worked closely with Hackney to design a network of chargers that ensure a fair and accessible experience for all residents. The initiative includes a minimum of 10% of chargers on estates, designated spaces for car clubs and a preferential charging tariff for Hackney residents through Hackney Light and Power. 

As a certified B-Corporation, Zest not only aims to deploy infrastructure for those who need it, but also strives to make a tangible contribution to the lives of those we serve. That’s why we’re working with Hackney Council to undertake innovative initiatives such as educating students on the importance of EVs and decarbonisation, alongside engaging in volunteering efforts and offering employment opportunities for the local community, apprentices, and paid work experience students.

Zest’s commitment to this project extends beyond the present, to future generations. We understand that it takes time for people to adjust to new services and behaviours. We’ve committed to our partnership with Hackney for a minimum of fifteen years, during which time, we’ll continually monitor and maintain the infrastructure and provide 24/7/365 driver support, ensuring a consistently reliable experience.

The issue of poor air quality persists across the capital, contributing to serious health conditions. The central London ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) showcases how bold policies can substantially improve air quality. Zest’s comprehensive rollout of charging infrastructure with Hackney Council is poised to deliver noticeable enhancements in air quality and noise pollution, leading to improved health for residents. These metrics, combined with the direct experience of a better outdoor environment will help to further build momentum and enthusiasm for the shift towards electrification.

Zest’s approach to charging in Hackney is transforming the refuelling process into a charging experience conveniently located where residents normally park. We’re utilising thousands of lamp posts for overnight and long stay charging, whilst our innovative system of build-outs into street parking bays ensures that pavements remain clear and charge points accessible, prioritising the preservation of precious pavement space for pedestrians. It’s through these types of innovations that the switch to EVs will become convenient and accessible for all.

The electrification of private and public transport is crucial for decarbonisation and improving air quality, ultimately resulting in positive long-term health outcomes for Londoners. What sets Zest’s partnership with Hackney apart is the sheer scale of the EV charging project and the careful consideration to ensure equitable access to infrastructure. By providing abundant facilities in anticipation of mass demand, we're instilling confidence in residents to make the switch to EV, accelerating the benefits of electrification and helping to transform London’s landscape for the better.

New London Agenda

New London Agenda

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