These statutory instruments cannot be argued with, because they are necessary and even innocuous. However, they raise the wider problems that we have with our transport system, one of which is air pollution.
We have a national problem with air pollution. It hits the poorest and most vulnerable hardest of all. Often, those who are more vulnerable are children, and when we affect children’s growth and lung capacity, we are storing up problems for the next 50 or 60 years, or possibly longer— problems for the individuals but also of course for the National Health Service. Therefore, reducing air pollution has to be a priority, in which case the Government’s idea of cutting out petrol and diesel by 2030 sounds very good, but of course it is not part of a coherent plan. It is no good saying that electric vehicles are a comprehensive answer to this, because clearly they are not; carbon emissions are inherent in their manufacture and their running, and it all depends on where their electricity comes from, how many times they are used and whether the number of cars on the road is reduced.
The other big problem is that we really have to reduce the amount of traffic. It is a problem for our city centres and for our towns and villages, and it is time that the Government came up with some sort of plan. Road pricing, launched today, is a very good idea. The Green Party has advocated it for many years, but the fact is that it has to be done properly. People have to have a guarantee of privacy—they do not want to sign up to something or use a system that will reduce their privacy.
There is also the issue of exceptions for people who need to use their cars—for example, those who run small businesses and people with disabilities. We must reduce the growing volume of traffic but, at the same time as the Government have come up with this plan for theoretically reducing traffic with road pricing, they have also given the go-ahead for the Salisbury tunnel. There seems to be no coherence in the government policy structure.
I would be grateful if the noble Baroness could tell me who is putting together a strategic view of our transport system and if she could give me their name and address, so that I can write to them.
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