Electric vehicles: calls to balance EVs with green spaces, as survey suggests UK's front gardens at risk

Britain's front gardens are a vital refuge for plants and wildlife that call the suburbs home, but at the same time, the incentive to cut vehicle emissions is higher than ever

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A new survey has shown nearly half of the UK's homeowners would consider paving over their front gardens to accommodate an EV - as London's ULEZ expansion and a ban on new petrol cars both loom on the horizon.

Electric vehicle charging tech designer EO Charging has polled 2,000 British homeowners - nationally representative of gender and region - on how they were balancing greener motoring with the potential loss of green space, in the form of their lawns, front gardens, and borders.

Nearly half of all of the UK homeowners surveyed - 49% - said they were considering paving over their front gardens to accommodate an electric vehicle in the future.

Of the households surveyed, one in ten either currently or had previously owned an EV - with London, the West Midlands, and Wales having the highest rates of ownership at 29%, 16% and 15% respectively.

Landscape designers say with a little creativity, it is possible to balance EV charging with green front yards (Joe Pepler/PinPep/Supplied)Landscape designers say with a little creativity, it is possible to balance EV charging with green front yards (Joe Pepler/PinPep/Supplied)
Landscape designers say with a little creativity, it is possible to balance EV charging with green front yards (Joe Pepler/PinPep/Supplied)

Of those that owned EVs, 70% have already made changes to the front of their homes and gardens to accommodate them, with around a fifth (22%) cutting back on green space.

But the polls also showed this loss of green space was something that concerned Britons - with 53% saying the trend of people paving over front gardens for more parking space needed to be addressed, and 28% worrying the growth of at-home EV charging would have a negative impact on their neighbourhood.

EO Charging chief executive Charlie Jardine said with the London's ULEZ expansion just days away, plus the rise in other clean air zone - or CAZ - policies and an impending ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles, the number of people living in the suburbs who choose to drive EVs is likely to rise.

"This means the desire for home charging facilities will grow, putting more pressure on front gardens and neighbourhood green spaces," he said.

Their survey - carried out on the company's behalf by market research company Mortar Research - also found some of the other big concerns people had about more EV charging in their neighbourhoods included safety hazards caused by cables running across pavements (42%), not enough off-road parking for charging (39%), and front gardens disappearing altogether (38%).

Front gardens are vital shelters, habitats and feeding grounds for wildlife that call the UK's suburbs home - including at-risk species like hedgehogs.

Mr Jardine said a solution EO was attempting was making their charging points as small as possible. "But it’s also important to understand that there’s a balance between accommodating EV charging infrastructure and protecting the green spaces around our homes".

"With some careful planning, homeowners can maximise the cost and pollution benefits of switching to an EV whilst still preserving the value of driveways and gardens for themselves, their neighbourhoods and nature," he added.

Henrietta Norman, creative director at London-based garden design company Tulip Landscapes, said with a little creativity, "it’s possible to free up the space to charge and keep the much needed habitat and beautiful planting our front gardens are known for".

“Whether it’s by choosing permeable paving options and weaving in plants that are happy with a little foot traffic, or creating planting pockets, integrating green roofs for bin or bike sheds into your design, or even considering vertical surfaces and growing climbers, homeowners can strike a balance between greener motoring and green space because there will be a practical and attractive option for every situation," she said.