Thank you for contacting me about fuel duty and the future of petrol and diesel vehicles.
On fuel duty first, as you may be aware, a continuation of the freeze of fuel duty was promised during the election campaign. I welcome the fact that the decision to freeze fuel duty for ten consecutive years has saved the average driver over £1,000. I am confident that we can build on this legacy, so that ordinary hardworking people can keep more of their money.
However, it is worth noting that the fuel duty freeze comes at significant costs to the Exchequer, and that £67bn has been spent on freezing fuel duty and another £46bn will be spent by the end of 2025.
While I am aware of the arguments in favour of introducing an independent pump pricing watchdog, I do not believe such a move is necessary. I firmly believe that the most effective way to keep fuel prices down is through an open and competitive market. In 2013, the Office for Fair Trading investigated competition in the UK fuel sector and concluded that it was operating well. It should be highlighted that the Government works with numerous stakeholders to ensure that the fuel industry is competitive, so consumers benefit from low prices.
With regards to road infrastructure, I welcome the commitment to invest a total of £28.8 billion in England's strategic and local roads. I hope you are reassured by the fact that I am committed to the improvement of infrastructure for motorists.
My colleagues at the Treasury assure me that all elements of taxation, including the various reliefs associated with any given tax, are kept under constant review. Any changes to fuel duty would be considered as part of the normal process leading up to the next Budget, and it has been announced that there will be no Budget this autumn.
My colleagues at the Treasury have also emphasised that any future fuel duty rates will be considered alongside measures that are needed to help meet the UK’s net zero commitment.
Regarding cycle lanes, I would also be happy to forward your concerns to my ministerial colleagues, to bear these points in mind during future debates on the issue. I am confident that the feedback from the recent consultation on this issue will be carefully considered by the Department for Transport, who will continue to prioritise safety for all road users in any future changes to The Highway Code.
On the future of petrol and diesel, as part of its ten point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the Government plans to bring forward to 2030 the date at which sales of new petrol and diesel cars will end, following extensive consultation with car manufacturers and sellers. The sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe will continue until 2035.
The Government thinks that Electric Vehicles (EVs) will play a crucial role in helping the UK to hit its ambitious, legally binding target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 which it continues to regard as a worthwhile objective.
The infrastructure is being put in place to support this acceleration, and facilitate the transition to EVs – including public chargepoints, residential on-street chargepoints as well as rapid and smart chargepoints. £2.5 billion in grants has already been made available for plug-in passenger commercial vehicles and more than 18,000 publicly available charging devices, including 3,200 rapid devices. The UK now has one of the largest chargepoint networks in Europe, and there are now more EV charging locations than petrol stations. To build on this, £1.3 billion has been allocated to accelerate the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways across England, so people can more easily and conveniently charge their cars. A consultation has also been held on all new-build homes in England being fitted with chargepoints.
Moreover, the electricity market is already set up to promote investment in generation capacity to meet demand, and measures have been put in place to increase the efficiency of the electricity system to prepare for EVs.
‘Smart’ charging of EVs at off-peak times can also reduce demand from charging at peak times, and investment is supporting vehicle-to-grid technology, whereby the storage capability of EV batteries provides electricity back to the grid. Nearly £500 million to be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, as part of our commitment to provide up to £1 billion, boosting international investment into our strong manufacturing bases including in the Midlands and North East.
In addition, the £274 million Faraday Battery Challenge is supporting the development of safe, cost-effective and high-performance batteries for EVs. This will ensure the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.
Furthermore, £582 million in grants has been announced for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles, to make them cheaper to buy and incentivise more people to make the transition.
These measures build on the UK car industry already manufacturing a significant proportion of electric vehicles in Europe, including one of the most popular models in the world. The plan also helps protect and create thousands of new jobs, particularly in the UK's industrial heartlands of the Midlands, North East, and North Wales.
I understand that the Government was interested in receiving responses to the consultation relating to how the proposals should apply to motorhomes and camper vans and is now reviewing the responses recieved. The Government also plans to launch a consultation on the phase out of new diesel HGVs to put the UK in the vanguard of zero emission freight. No date has been set yet.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP