Thank you very much for contacting me about government proposals on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles in the future, and motorcycles in particular.
I have written to the Department for Transport to raise the points you make on your behalf. I recognise the importance that motorbikes have for many people.
I understand that the Department for Transport (DfT) has proposed that from 2030 there would be a ban on the sale of all new non-zero emission mopeds, and low performance motorcycles and scooters up to 125cc and 11kW.
It is also proposing that the sale of all medium- and high-powered motorcycles would be banned from 2035 (or earlier if feasible).
The current situation appears to be that the government has carried out a public consultation on its proposals which closed on 21 September 2022 and the DfT is currently analysing the results.
I take careful note of the economic and environmental arguments you make regarding a transition to electric vehicles. These are government proposals and as a Labour MP I will only make some general points about the debate as Labour is developing its own plans for transport.
Whilst electric vehicles are not a magic solution to tackling carbon emissions from transport, the independent Office for Climate Change argues that they are definitely a key part of the answer.
Transport is the sector of the UK economy that emits the highest emissions, so any plan to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions overall would clearly need to cut transport emissions significantly.
Emissions from cars and taxis make up around 55% of transport emissions so they would necessarily be the focus within transport, whilst motorcycle emissions account for a relatively much smaller percentage of total transport emissions at 0.4%.
Your plan to encourage people to move away from car use deserves consideration. One element of that is investment in sustainable public transport which I think is very important.
I was pleased to see that in March 2021 the Liverpool City Region announced the roll out of a new fleet of hydrogen-powered buses. That followed the approval of a new franchise model to bring bus services under greater public control, as well as the introduction of new £2 fares to reduce the cost of travel.
I would just point out though that the Office of Climate Change sees both the transition to the use of electric vehicles and a major shift towards the use of sustainably powered public transport as essential to tackle climate change, rather than alternatives.
I take note of what you say about the current cost of buying and using an electric vehicle, the time taken to charge a vehicle, the need to develop the charging network, the life span of batteries and the way that metals to make them are mined.
You are quite right that all of those issues need to be addressed. We also can’t be certain of what future work-life patterns will be as the pandemic and the current energy crisis has distorted so much of what we formerly took for granted.
Nevertheless, it is likely that people will continue to want to drive for all sorts of reasons, such as to take someone to hospital or to get a weekly shop for example, even if they work from home.
The Office of Climate Change highlights in its latest report that ‘almost all major manufacturers have now committed to transitioning their supply chains to focus on EVs’, and ‘that EVs are progressing towards mass-market appeal’.
There is increasing awareness that this is a health issue as well as an economic and environmental one. Whilst levels of air pollution in UK towns and cities have fallen over the longer term, they are still unacceptably high.
Thank you once again for raising this issue with me and sharing with me the contributions of the Motorcycle Action Group to the debate. I do appreciate that there will be costs involved in the transition to electric vehicles and that the government has not done enough to develop the infrastructure that will be needed.
Nevertheless, there are opportunities as well for the creation of new skilled jobs and to improve public health at the same time as tackling climate change. I will be interested to read the response from the Department of Transport to my letter and I will pass that on to you.
I would be happy to meet with you at my constituency office; my office manager will contact you to make arrangements.
24th January 2023