Transport Secretary Declares That Government Isn’t ‘Anti-Car’

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has stated that the government isn’t ‘anti-car’ and has no intention of ‘demonising’ drivers…

Government isn’t ‘Anti-Car’ 

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has sought to reassure voters that the government is neither ‘anti-car’ or looking to ‘demonise’ drivers. The comments follow a series of long-term measures designed to decarbonise transport; which, for some commentators, represent a direct challenge to motorists and driving culture. Shapps said that the government’s overall aim is to ensure that cars “can run without damaging people’s health and the environment”.

Back in November, Boris Johnson announced that’d he’d be bringing forward the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2035 to 2030; it had originally been set at 2040. Hybrids will face the same ban in 2035. In a recently published decarbonisation plan, the government also announced its intention to ban the sale of new ICE HGVs and heavy vehicles in 2040.

‘Not Against the Car’

Shapps, speaking in the House of Commons, 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 continued, “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”.

He was answering a question by  Conservative former minister Theresa Villiers. She’d 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?”

Ultimately, two camps have emerged regarding cars and the environment. On the one side, there’s the belief that cars can be made in a sustainable way and that, by using hydrogen or electricity, their emissions can be negated. On the other side of the debate, there are voices suggesting that cars are inherently bad for the environment and that society is simply too car-dependent; and that more emphasis should be placed on pedestrianisation, public transport, cycling and walking. Based on Shapp’s comments, it’s very clear where the government currently stands.

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