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Volume 636: debated on Thursday 1 March 2018

We have very ambitious plans to reduce transport emissions, including by ending the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans, and by ending the use of diesel-only trains by 2040. Clean growth strategy actions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the UK plan for reducing nitrogen dioxide concentrations sets out action to tackle hotspots of air pollution. We will shortly be launching our new zero-emissions transport paper, and the House can review that, too.

The Minister will know that 24% of all emissions are transport related. He will know there are hotspots across the country, including in my constituency, and thousands of people die prematurely as a result of poor air quality, including 61 people in my Gedling constituency. How does he intend to accelerate the progress and policy development he has outlined to us today?

We absolutely recognise the issues that the hon. Gentleman raises. He will know that we work very closely on this issue, through the joint air quality unit, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Our specific plans on transport emissions will be released in our report later this month.

Can the Minister assure the House that, as far as the Department for Transport is concerned, “emissions” refers both to carbon and to air quality emissions, such as nitrogen oxide and small particulate matter, and that they are fully addressed together within the Department?

Yes, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. Of course, DEFRA is the lead agency within Government on emissions. Only on Monday we put the renewable transport fuel obligation on the statute book. The obligation specifically balances the two sides of that equation.

Oxford is proud to call itself a cycling city, yet last week it was identified in the High Court ruling on air pollution as one of the 45 cities that the Government need to do more to help. Will any more money be coming to Oxford to help us make that modal shift?

The hon. Lady will be aware that substantial amounts of money have already been put aside to help local authorities that have been affected by air quality problems, and it is up to Oxford to see if it can apply for that money when it becomes available.

I drive an electric car, but many people do not. Northern powerhouse rail will take many cars off the road. The all-party parliamentary group on the northern powerhouse is calling for the northern powerhouse rail project to be brought forward to coincide with the completion of High Speed 2 in 2032. Will the Minister support that proposal?

I am always grateful for invitations to support proposals. I think I will leave that proposal to the specific Ministers concerned, but my hon. Friend will be aware it is a manifesto commitment.