Town councillors have welcomed the news that hundreds of west Dorset residents are switching to electric vehicles, but they say more needs to be done.

Department for Transport statistics show that 367 ultra-low emission vehicles were licensed in west Dorset at the end of September - 35 per cent more than at the same point a year earlier. The figures include battery electric, hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles.

Lyme Regis councillor, Rob Smith, said: “I am really excited that more people in Dorset are adopting electric vehicles.

“When we look around the world at the floods, the storms, the droughts and the fires, we know we have to stop using fossil fuels. Electric cars are an important part of this. As electricity generation shifts to renewables, CO2 emissions can be eliminated. This isn’t possible with cars that burn petrol or diesel.

“Currently, electric cars are more expensive - but overall costs are lower.”

Cllr Smith says he brought a second-hand electric vehicle two years ago, swapping the weekly £60 trip to the petrol station with plugging it in at home and work. He calculates that three years’ saving on fuel, tax and maintenance will pay for the car.

Town councillors in Bridport also said it was an improvement and ‘a move in the right direction’ but efforts should be put into an efficient and electric bus service.

Cllr Julian Jones said: “Electric vehicles are always an improvement in conventional, increasingly so as more of our electricity comes from renewable sources.

“However, we need to do much more than simply exchange the power source while retaining a car-dominated pattern of transport. Even in a rural area like ours, we could do far more to establish a comprehensive network of electric buses and to allocate more road space to pedestrians, cyclists and buses.”

Cllr Kelvin Clayton said that we should be moving away from privately owned vehicles all together.

“Whilst this is a move in the right direction, my fear is that people regard it as a solution to our climate and ecological emergency - it isn’t,” he said.

“Electric vehicles are definitely better for the environment and better four our health that fossil fuelled cars, but if you include their manufacture and disposal, they still have a large carbon footprint, albeit half that of a normal car, and require the mining of rare minerals for their batteries.

“Ideally we need to be moving away from privately owned vehicles all together and be putting all our resources into the development of an efficient and cheap public transport system.”