I agree that, while it is important that we act to reduce emissions, and therefore improve air quality and fight climate change, we must be careful not to do so in a way that unduly penalises motorists. This is, I believe, a particularly important issue in Scotland, which includes many large, rural areas where people rely more on car travel.
I am proud that the UK Government has worked to keep the cost of living for British motorists low by freezing fuel duty for eight consecutive, saving the average driver £160 per year. I also believe that the UK Government is right to seek to gradually phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, a step which recognises that we must shift towards more environmentally-friendly vehicles, but do so in a measured manner.
Here in Scotland, many aspects of environment policy are controlled by the Scottish Government in Holyrood. Therefore, it is they who are responsible for presiding over the establishment of ultra-low emission zones in various Scottish cities. I believe the UK Government, which is directly responsible for environment policy in England, is right to have created a Clean Air Fund which English local authorities can use to ensure that individuals and businesses are not overburdened by those authorities’ air quality policies.
Further ideas and contributions to how we can best reduce vehicle emissions, especially in such a way that does not overburden motorists, are always welcome, and so I will be sure to follow the APPG’s inquiry intently. Likewise, I hope that the UK and Scottish Governments will both pay attention to any proposals that the inquiry puts forward.