Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 4:02 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire 4:02 pm, 10th July 2019

Yes; of course, the purpose of the carbon budgets and some of the work of the Committee on Climate Change is exactly to tease out those effects. It is a good thing that the body that we set up to be independent, to give the Government advice and to hold their feet to the fire is doing just that—that is what it is there for. Yes, there are costs, but there are also gains. I just made the point about bioethanol; there is already investment in green jobs in the places where we want them, such as Teesside and the Humber. Those factories could generate more jobs and make money that could be taxed. At the moment, all that is being held back for want of a Government decision of an environmental kind. There is money to be had for the Government in terms of inputs, as well as just outputs, or debits. I agree with the hon. Gentleman to some extent, but we do have a process in hand.

Let me turn to light railway in the context of rural locations. I shall use the example of Buntingford, in my constituency, where housing numbers are being rapidly expanded—basically, planning is being allowed to double the size of the town—but there is no employment, or not much, because it is a rural community, and it does not have a train service. That means there will be many more car journeys, as the new homes to go to commuters, who travel mainly to London and Cambridge. If we built a light rail link to Stevenage, people would have the option of going by public transport to the big town to shop or on the main line to work.

Of course, people think that light railway is bound to cost a fortune, because in a city it does—the land has to be bought, and it is incredibly expensive—but we need to look more at whether light railway can be done at a sensible price in a rural location. It would also have environmental and social benefits. I have asked Hertfordshire County Council, which is currently visioning its transport for 2050, to look into the idea, and also to look at whether there might be other possibilities for east-west routes in the county.