PRA chairman Brian Madderson has told MPs that they should not force service stations to install electric charging points.

Appearing as a witness before a committee of MPs considering the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, Madderson said: “The mandating of motorway service areas and large fuel retailers should be taken out at this stage because the market is just developing far too rapidly.

“We have even asked the Department for Transport what the definition of a large fuel retailer is, and it has said that it does not know yet and it will consult on that. Is it the size of the plot of a single one? Is it a multi-site organisation that might have filling stations all over the UK? Is it the amount of existing fossil fuel that a retailer is supplying? There is no definition, so I do not think it is reasonable or fair to mandate a large fuel retailer when you do not know what that is.”

Madderson said PRA members were interested in electric charging, but added: “There is funding for charging points at home, on the street, in the workplace and in other public areas but there is no funding available for the fuel retailers who would like to embrace this technology in order to provide a diverse range of refuelling options for their customers.

“It is the big rump of the medium to small-sized filling stations right across the country that will find this more difficult, because the investment decision at the present time is not something that banks would support. There is almost no money to come back on a perceived return-on-investment basis. So they are the ones who will be holding back the growth of charging points right across the country - it is not just city-centric.”

Asked what would be needed to encourage wider take-up of electric chargers, Madderson explained: “It does have to be some form of funding, because if you go to your bank and say that you want to put in a charging point that might cost you a lot of money, you will immediately be asked, ‘What do you see as the return on investment? I’ve got to get my interest back.’ They have no idea at the moment, because the market is in such a state of flux.”