Sunak reaffirms commitment to 2030 petrol and diesel car ban

The Prime Minister had been under mounting pressure to row back on the ban.

The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 remains Government policy, the Prime Minister has said.

Rishi Sunak had been under mounting pressure to row back on the ban after more than 40 Conservative MPs and peers wrote to him calling for the deadline to be pushed back.

However, the Prime Minister said it remained part of his agenda, reiterating his commitment to transition to net zero in a “proportionate and pragmatic way”.

Echoing Mr Sunak, energy minister Andrew Bowie told Sky News “we remain committed to ensuring that more people get access to, are able to buy, are able to drive electric and hybrid cars”.

Their comments came as the Prime Minister announced at least 100 new oil and sea gas licences alongside a new carbon capture scheme in north-east Scotland.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme about the 2030 ban, Mr Sunak said: “That’s about new cars, not all existing cars. So it’s the sale of new cars. That’s been the Government’s policy for a long time. It remains the Government’s policy.

“But what I have said more generally on my approach, is that we will transition to net zero, I’m committed to it, but we will do it in a proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn’t necessarily add burden or cost to families’ bills, particularly at a time when inflation is higher than any of us would have liked.

“And more generally, on motorists, I think actually, this was down recently to the Ulez expansion that your listeners may or may not be familiar about, which I don’t think is the right thing.

UK Parliament portraits
Energy minister Andrew Bowie (David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA)

“I think at a time when, as I said, families are looking at bills and worried about inflation, adding £12.50 on to their life every time they visit the supermarket or a GP or drop their kids off at football practice does not seem to me to be the right thing to do.”

Mr Bowie told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “The Prime Minister has been quite clear we are committed to the 2030 target for the phasing out of new petrol or diesel cars, the sale of that.

“That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to drive a petrol diesel car post-2030 but the sale of petrol-diesel cars, we are hoping that our aim is that we will see (it) start from 2030.

“We remain committed to that target. We remain committed to ensuring that more people get access to, are able to buy, are able to drive electric and hybrid cars.”

Meanwhile, Tory former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned the UK risks “simply becoming even more dependent on China” if the 2030 target is not pushed back.

Sir Iain told Sky News the 2030 date was “plucked out of nowhere”, adding: “If we rush to this, what we risk right now is simply becoming even more dependent on China.

“China is ready to literally flood the market here with cheap electric cars, all their battery companies, which by the way are many, and they produce far more batteries than the whole of Europe put together … They are going to dump those on us.

“There’s also issues around security, our ability to switch those batteries off.”

He went on: “So it’s important for us to have another look at that 2030 target because it’s pretty arbitrary and Europe, for example, has moved the target back to 2035, America is back at 2035.

“We are rapidly becoming the only developed country in the world that is still clinging to an arbitrary target which we probably won’t make, and which is going to destroy much of our industry.”

Since the Conservatives’ narrow victory in the Uxbridge and Ruislip by-election earlier this month, which saw the Tory candidate tap into local concerns about the expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez), some Tory MPs have been urging Mr Sunak to engage in a rethink on net zero.

In a bid to pitch the party as “pro-motorist”, Mr Sunak ordered a review of the rollout of low-traffic neighbourhoods.

The move was confirmed in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, with the Prime Minister asking the Department for Transport to review low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) policies.

Under such plans, local councils attempt to limit traffic in town and city centres – with drivers often prevented from using quiet residential roads as through routes.

Asked whether he was a fan of LTNs on LBC, energy minister Mr Bowie said “where they are relevant and where they would improve the safety of pedestrians, absolutely”.

On why it is the role of central Government to get involved, he said: “Where there is local opposition to 20-mile-an-hour low emission zones, then the Government has a duty to look and see what we can do to support those local communities who are opposed to it, but to begin with, absolutely it’s the local authorities to determine where a 20-mile-an-hour zone should be placed.”

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