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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 4:18 pm, 5th February 2020

I am aware that many people want to speak, so if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I will carry on.

Labour set 2030 as the date for ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars. The Government’s new target of 2035 is not ambitious enough for our climate, our industries and our motorists. It is also deeply worrying to hear that the Government may be planning to scrap the £3,500 electric car grant when it expires next month. Perhaps the Transport Secretary can confirm whether that is the case when he comes to the Dispatch Box.

Electric vehicles are already cheaper over the lifetime of a vehicle, and up-front costs are likely to fall sharply by the mid-2020s. It makes sense for the supporting industry and for reducing emissions that motorists should transition soonest. Last year, Labour announced plans to invest £3.6 billion in a vast expansion of the UK’s electric vehicle charging network and to offer 2.5 million interest-free loans for the purchase of electric vehicles, saving buyers up to £5,000. Furthermore, our plans included the introduction of a targeted scrappage scheme to replace cars over 10 years old powered by fossil fuels with new electric cars. We would also have put 30,000 electric cars on UK streets through publicly owned community car sharing clubs. In contrast, the Government have repeatedly slashed EV subsidies and have failed to invest any of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure fund announced in 2017. Not only is that preventing the UK from making necessary emission reductions, but it leaves our motor manufacturing industries lagging behind foreign counterparts.

In the midst of an air pollution crisis, active travel remains massively underfunded. The Government are predicted to miss their own cycling targets, achieving just a third of the 800 million extra trips that they hoped for by 2025, and much of the growth in cycling is limited to London. Labour set out plans to boost cycling and walking and to make England one of the most cycling and walking friendly places in the world, making our towns and cities cleaner and greener, and transforming the environment, travel opportunities and quality of life right across the country. The emissions-reducing plan would also have addressed the local air pollution crisis and the epidemic of ill health caused by sedentary lifestyles. This investment in walking and cycling would, for the first time, have made active travel a genuine option for the many, not just the brave.

The plan included: doubling cycling for adults and children; building 5,000 km of cycleways; creating safe cycling and walking routes to 10,000 primary schools; delivering universal affordable access to bicycles and grants for e-bike purchases; and providing training for all primary school children and their parents, extending training to secondary schools and making training available for all adults.

Aviation emissions are a particular issue: in the UK, they have more than doubled since 1990, while emissions from the economy as a whole have fallen by around 40%. The Government plan to build a third runway at Heathrow. According to the Department for Transport’s projections for Heathrow expansion, the UK’s legally binding targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 will be missed. The Government should rule out any expansion that is not compatible with our climate targets. Who are we expanding airports for?