On his first full day back in Westminster after hip replacement surgery, Neil made a speech calling for greater support for Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles. The speech can be read below:
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) on securing the debate, on keeping a spotlight very much on air quality and on bringing in ultra low emission vehicles.
We have to remember that, in hotspots in this city and throughout the country, 80% of the nitric oxide that turns into nitric dioxide is produced by transport. We really have to deal with that. At issue is private cars, and we have to put in place the right systems of grants and encouragement for the public to buy. For example, charging points must be not only available, but very fast, so people do not have to wait all day for their car to charge up if they are going long distances.
I agree with the hon. Member for Southport (John Pugh) that lorries will be difficult to turn electric. Delivery vans, taxis and buses can reduce their emissions dramatically, not just through electricity but other fuels. Unless we target such high areas of pollution, we will not be doing enough for air quality. The lives of thousands of people out there in our inner cities are being shortened by air quality.
Yes, electric vehicles carry great incentives now—we are talking about 4p a mile in running costs—and I congratulate the Government on the initiatives in place, but only 1% of vehicles are electric and ultra low emission, while in Norway the figure is 25%. The key now is to ensure that people have alternative vehicles, not only purely electric ones, but hybrid vehicles, which allow drivers to use petrol or diesel over long distances and the batteries when they get to the inner cities. That could perhaps also be done with hybrid lorries, so that lorries’ engines charge on the journey into London and they are able to make deliveries in central London using their electric motors.
We must stop these vehicles—from taxis to buses and delivery vans. Given our lifestyles, we all like to order our shopping online with a click from Tesco, Sainsbury’s or wherever, but all that has to be delivered by a van, which again means emissions in our inner cities. We must tackle the issue head-on, and tackle the hotspots in particular, by incentivising people to ensure that we take diesel polluters out of our city centres, and I am confident that the Minister can do that.