Net Zero Targets and Decarbonising Transport — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:05 am on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham 10:05 am, 4th February 2020

The entire purpose of the fund, in my understanding, is for a couple of rail schemes that are almost ready to go and for an investigation into further schemes. I agree 100% that the fund will not put many lines back in place, but for that to happen they would have to be shovel-ready. The funding that the Minister is dealing with is to investigate and to conduct feasibility studies for a lot of those lines. I desperately hope that my line from Gateshead to Consett will be one of them.

My right hon. Friend the Member for East Hampshire also made an important point about walking and cycling. The Derwent Walk replaced our rail line—as many Members know, when rail lines were dug up, they were often replaced by walking and cycling lanes. I am keen for those to be kept in place, so that the rail line has walking and cycling alongside it. That is important, because the car parks at stations are already clogged and overcrowded, as other hon. Members know if like me they commute from far away. As much as possible, I want people to walk and cycle to stations, to help move towards net zero, in particular as regards transport emissions.

In my constituency, too, we have a huge amount of new building. We are one of the fastest-growing parts of the north-east. I would like to see all new-build homes having electric charging points for cars, as mentioned. We have Nissan in the north-east, which I visited recently; it is making a massive move towards electric car production. Now that the Government have announced that they will introduce the target, it is important that new-build homes all have charging points in place.

My final point relates to vehicle excise duty; we need to ensure a stable system in the long term. Vehicle excise duty on motor homes, which are produced in my constituency, increased by 705% in September last year, from £260 to over £2,000. That means that it is less affordable to buy new motor homes, which obviously are cleaner and have Euro 6 engines. It will push people towards foreign flights and travel rather than domestic travel. In the UK, the average motor home travels between 3,000 and 6,000 miles. To tax it as a car is madness, and hurts domestic tourism to places such as Weardale in my constituency, other places across the north-east and other rural parts of the UK.

I urge the Minister to push his Treasury colleagues to look at these changes to vehicle excise duty, which came through last year from European Union regulation 2018/1832. VED has hit domestic manufacturing. The production of ever-cleaner motor homes creates 600 jobs in my constituency. It is incredibly important that we support the motor industry where we can, as well as our domestic tourism, to reduce international flights. That will contribute to exactly what we want to see: the decarbonisation of our transport economy.