Motorists who try parking in Carlisle city centre will be glad to hear of a new car park.

Work has begun on one this week and is due to be completed during the summer.

It will occupy the site of the county council’s old Lonsdale Building in Brush Brow behind the Citadel, making it handy to the railway station and shops.

It will be open 24 hours a day, will have spaces for 90 vehicles and will include disabled bays and cycle spaces.

Users can pay and display or use their phone.

And it will include a feature most car parks locally don’t have – two electric vehicle charging points.

The Government has promised to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero within the next 30 years. The target will be impossible to reach unless conventional petrol or diesel cars are cut as well.

And so fully electric cars and hybrid-electric cars – those with engines powered partly by petrol and partly by electricity – will be the shape of driving to come.

At the moment there are around 100,000 electric cars on our roads. By 2030 there could be nine million.

It is a change we knew was coming. In 2017 Volvo announced that all new models from this year onwards would be fully electric or hybrid. Other manufacturers are following. So the infrastructure for them is needed now.

“Our intention is to introduce EV charging points in each of the county council public car parks,” promises county councillor David Southward.

“Although it should be noted that the council only currently owns two public car parks, both of which are in Carlisle, we are hoping to open a new public car park in Kendal. The proposal to introduce charging points is under consideration with a view to rolling out the changes next year.”

Others are already appearing around the county.

There are charging points in Lowther Street in Carlisle, in Heads Road in Keswick, at Griffin House in Workington and in Senhouse Street in Whitehaven.

More can be found in the south of the country, in Ambleside, Kendal, Kirby Stephen, Kirby Lonsdale and Ulverston.

Independent supermarket chain Booths has one at its premises in Keswick and says it plans to install another 38 across the north of England in the coming months, although it could not confirm specific sites for them.

The Lake District National Park Authority is already well ahead in providing them. It has 30 charging points at the moment and Simon Hill, its commercial property manager, says: “By 2040 we’d like to increase that to at least 60.”

On Tuesday new sockets were installed and working at six new locations.

They are at Glenridding car park near Ullswater, the authority’s offices in Threlkeld and Kendal, Grasmere’s Stock Lane car park, the Coniston boating centre and Coniston tourist information centre.

Around 19 million people visit the national park every year, and Mr Hill explains: “We are installing these electric charging points in anticipation for increased future demand, and to encourage more sustainable transport in and around the Lake District.”

Visitors can find the locations of the existing power points online or via an app called Zap Map.

Authority member Alan Barry adds: “If people come in electric cars we want them to have an enjoyable experience, rather than spending their time looking for charging points.”

One electric car owner is authority chief executive Richard Leafe. He finds: “If you own an electric vehicle you very rapidly become au fait with the technology, because you are very interested in knowing whether you can get back from where you’ve just driven to. I am aware of two other rapid chargers in the national park, at Ambleside and Keswick. Quite a number of hotels have their own infrastructure. I see this as a start in rolling out more electric car charging infrastructure.”

The target is for 60 and he points out : “If you added in some of those at hotels, we are quite a way towards that already.”

The charging points form part of the national park’s Visitor Travel Strategy. Over the next 21 years, park bosses want to see conventional car use more than halved as the main mode of travel to the Lake District, and replaced by sustainable options.

Specifically they want to reduce the number of visitors who arrive by car from 83 per cent to 64 per cent and allow 50 per cent to arrive by rail. More multi-use trails for walking and cycling are also being provided.

The obvious case for electric cars is that they do not create the carbon emissions of conventional vehicles. Transport is the biggest contributor to climate change in the UK.

Electric cars are better for our health as well as the environment. Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to public health in the UK – behind only cancer, obesity and heart disease – and petrol and diesel vehicles are the main source of it.

Electric cars may not burn petrol, but they still need electricity. And much of ours still comes from oil and coal-fired, carbon-producing power stations.

However electricity from renewable sources is growing fast in Britain. Between 2010 and 2016 the renewable electricity rose from just seven per cent of the total to 25 per cent.

Besides, electric cars are much more efficient than conventional cars – so they don’t need as much power of any kind.

According to Cambridge Econometrics, a wholesale move to electric vehicles would add just 10 per cent to overall electricity use.

Car dealers in Cumbria aren’t seeing great demand for electric or hybrid vehicles at the moment. But Colin Birch of Stan Palmer Ford in Wigton predicts: “It’s definitely coming.”

Various hybrid and wholly electric models are expected over the next few years and he adds: “We may need a few more power stations to keep up with the demand!”

Electric vehicles are expensive at the moment but Mr Birch reckons: “When the technology is up and running the prices will come down.”

However better they are for our health and the environment, however easy they are to charge and however cheap they become, there may still be some resistance to them from motorists who are long used to petrol cars.

“It could take a while,” he says. “People can be wary. We are quite a rural area, and you may find they catch on in cities more quickly. But it needs to change.”