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The Climate Emergency

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:21 pm on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby 4:21 pm, 17th October 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Angela Smith.

I welcome many things within the Queen’s Speech, but particularly the theme of preparing the country for life outside the EU. My constituents in Rugby and Bulkington will be delighted by the progress made today, which means that they can see the light at the end of the tunnel in the negotiations with the EU. That enables the referendum to be respected and provides some certainty, but also, very importantly for my constituency, retains close trading links with our European partners that would be lost if we left with no deal.

In respect of the provisions on climate and the environment, I am very supportive of the Government’s policy commitment to get to net zero emissions by 2050, but that needs to be proportionate. I hear calls from Opposition Members to bring these targets forward—there is almost a bidding war—but they need to be reasonable, proportionate and achievable. We really do need to think long and hard about the effects of decarbonisation, particularly on our transport, and the move to electric heating of our buildings.

Transport infrastructure is a very important issue. I note that the Transport Secretary is in his place. He is a great advocate of electric vehicles, but he will know all about range anxiety. I must share with him that I was absolutely horrified to discover that a brand new motorway service area being built in Rugby at junction 1 of the M6 was originally proposed to have only two electric charging stations as a consequence of lack of capacity within the grid. Intervention and shouting and talking to people mean that it will open in the middle of the summer with 22 charging points, but even that is lacking in ambition. Given that this is the halfway point between London and Manchester where people will want to stop and charge their cars, we need to provide that facility.

We need to consider reinforcing the grid in respect of heating our buildings. There is a weakness in the way that we redevelop the infrastructure. We need to make certain that there is sufficient power to do all the things we want to do. We will be able to do something on vehicles by using smart metering technology to encourage people to charge overnight if they want to be able to heat their homes when they return from work. On power generation, I hope that the Government will look once again at tidal power. We have fabulous knowledge and expertise in Rugby at GE Energy, and I am hopeful that tidal lagoons will be reconsidered.

I have a whole range of issues to raise in respect of the Environment Bill. I will clearly now have to save my defence of plastic packaging for the Second Reading debate next week.