SINCE the first car hit the road in 1885, never mind hit the production line, they have been a means for individuals and their families to extend and enrich their personal lives and for businesses to grow, writes MP Anne Marie Morris.
Over the years, recognising the challenges of their emissions, we have been told to buy diesel not petrol, then buy petrol not diesel and now buy electric. While frustrated by these changes people want to do the right thing. However, governments need to enable and encourage that rather than simply demand change however well intentioned. If it can’t be done affordably, people – and businesses -simply won’t do it.
For those living in remote and rural areas, they have been a life line. With no regular bus service, no local facilities, and sometimes poor broadband they are not a nice to have but a necessary part of life. These rural communities – along with many urban communities -have significant levels of poverty. Changing your car for a newer greener model is simply not affordable.
But unlike urban counterparts, there may be no alternative to the car. Here in the South West salaries are some of the lowest in the country but we have some of the highest living costs. But electric vehicles are typically one third more expensive than their petrol/diesel counterpart.
Mandating an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 means we will all hold on to our old cars longer because we can’t afford new ones. More breakdowns and safety risks might follow. And it will inevitably mean it’s harder to buy diesel and petrol.
How many charging points might there be in rural communities by then? Currently there are 16 times more charging points in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Industry estimates we will need 2.3 million public charging points by 2035.
We only have 44,000 now. And how will this impact petrol filling stations? It takes 5-10 minutes at a petrol pump but at least double that at an electric charging point. Not every home can have or can afford its own charging point.
And spare a thought for the manufacturer. 22% of cars manufactured next year must be electric – rising to 80% by 2030. If they don’t - they pay a penalty of £15,000 per car.
But they can’t force people to buy them. Until we ramp up the number of charging points, make sure they are reliable and well maintained, sort out the technology to reduce battery weight (which destroys roads and bridges) and extend distance, all we will see is more people trying and then rejecting electric versions.
Those people will be much harder to attract back. What will the manufacturers do? Stop manufacturing for the UK market. That seems to me to be a lose lose! And even now the motorist is facing ever increasing road tax (particularly if not an electric car) and seems to be seen as a source of revenue by local councils and private car parking companies.
Parking charges are being rolled out not just in shopping areas but residential areas. ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) charges in London and similar schemes elsewhere are stopping older cars entering prescribed areas either at all or unless the motorist pays a fine. Yet for these contributions what does the motorist get – more potholes! Excise Duty raises £8bn a year, and fuel duty £24.3bn. Yet we only spent £11bn a year on roads. Getting compensation for damage to a car is difficult if not impossible.
As for private car park operators, my mail bag is full of complaints about unfair charges and penalties. The Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019, will change this but the car parking companies are putting up a serious fight in the courts to stop it! We all want to do the right thing – but it needs to be made a lot easier, fairer and more affordable.