THE region’s infrastructure could struggle to deal with a predicted boom in electric cars, according to new research.

The Government is urging authorities across the country to prepare for a significant increase in the amount of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road.

The number of plug-in vehicles licensed in the North-East has rocketed in recent years, rising from 256 in 2011 to 4,024 by the end of 2018.

About half of the councils in the North-East and North Yorkshire have no plans in place to improve their network in preparation for an anticipated influx of electric vehicles.

By 2030, the aim is for all new vehicles sold to be electric and to have a nationwide charge point infrastructure in place that will adequately support motorists.

There were 486 places to charge – not including at-home points – dotted around the region as of the end of 2018, but three authorities – Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Scarborough – have ten or less.

Experts believe that a limited infrastructure of public charging points could hinder attempts to hit the 2030 targets while dissuading motorists from purchasing electric vehicles.

Just one North-East authority – South Tyneside – has applied for funding from the Government’s £2.5m On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, created to improve the number of charge points in residential areas.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC’s Head of Roads Policy, said a lack of adequate charging infrastructure was a barrier for electric vehicle take up, along with range anxiety and expense.

He said: “Despite the Government’s ambitions to accelerate the take-up of cleaner vehicles, charging infrastructure is presently something of a postcode lottery, and patchy at best in some areas of the country.”

Research from the BBC’s Shared Data Unit found that Middlesbrough has the highest rate in England of charging locations per 1,000 vehicles licensed. The authority, however, has no plans to expand upon its infrastructure.

According to a Freedom of Information request analysed by the Liberal Democrats, councils in Hartlepool, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Stockton, Scarborough and Sunderland also have no plans to install more points.

Bridget Fox of the Campaign for Better Transport said without “coordinated action” at a local and national level, Government targets may not be met.

She added: “Moving to electric vehicles, as well as reducing overall traffic levels is vital to tackling air pollution and reducing transport’s CO2 emissions. Councils can help by requiring off-street charging points as part of planning applications and by prioritising electric vehicles in car parks.”

Steps have been taken in Darlington and Harrogate to prepare for a rapid increase in electric vehicles, while formal plans to improve the network of charging points have been drawn up by authorities in Durham, Newcastle, Redcar, South Tyneside and North Tyneside.