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We are not anti-car or wanting to demonise drivers, insists Transport Secretary

Motorists have been offered assurances by the Transport Secretary that the Government is not “anti-car”, nor wanting to “demonise” drivers.

Grant Shapps told MPs the ambition is to ensure cars “can run without damaging people’s health and the environment” as he unveiled new reforms.

In November last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2030.

The ban will apply to new hybrid cars and vans from 2035.

The delayed Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP) also includes several consultations aimed at cutting transport pollution to help the UK reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

One measure includes banning the sale of diesel lorries in the UK from 2040.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Shapps also said: “We are not against the car.

“We want people to have access to cars and indeed in rural areas it is often the only way that people have got to get around, despite obviously wanting to improve bus services and the rest of it.”

He added: “We intend to carry on investment but to make sure that the cars can run without damaging people’s health and the environment, and that makes sense.”

Mr Shapps was responding to a comment from Conservative former minister Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet), who asked: “Will the Secretary of State agree with me that to tackle climate change we need to decarbonise cars, vans and taxis and not demonise cars, vans and taxis?”

For Labour, shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “With transport now the largest contributor to UK emissions, this should have been the chance for ministers to really set out that ambitious plan, (which) could really lead the way ahead of Cop26.

“Not warm words or reannouncements, but a real plan supporting aviation and maritime, rail and freight, local public transport alongside active travel.”

He pointed to the absence of a van scrappage scheme, a “woeful lack” of electrical vehicle charging points, a “reduction of thousands” of bus routes, while adding that at the same time ticket prices “have rocketed”.

Mr McMahon added: “This climate emergency requires urgent action, actually many years ago, yet after a decade in government I’m afraid they’ve been found wanting.

“We were promised an ambitious plan to lead the world ahead of Cop26, if that was a test, then I’m afraid the Government has failed.”