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Decarbonisation Commitments

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 9 September 2021

14. What recent steps his Department has taken to facilitate transport decarbonisation to help meet commitments to the (a) Paris agreement and (b) forthcoming COP26 summit. (903274)

We recently published the transport decarbonisation plan and set out our pathway to achieving net zero, and we are delivering an ambitious, international COP26 campaign.

The Scottish Government have just announced that they will meet the target long campaigned for by active travel groups of 10% of the transport budget to be spent on active travel. That is exactly the kind of ambition that needs to be highlighted at the COP. So, first, I hope the Secretary of State will invite the Scottish Transport Minister along to explain that ambition. Secondly, will the Secretary of State outline what steps the Government are taking to meet that ambition south of the border?

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman missed it earlier in the summer, but we announced an active travel programme—this was all part of our £2 billion of funding, with, I believe, an additional £330 million of that being spent this year alone. Of course COP26 will provide a fantastic opportunity for the United Kingdom to showcase all the work we are doing collectively in order to improve our climate.

With an eye on COP26, I thank my right hon. Friend for his support for the reopening of dormant railway stations as part of the Government’s drive to net zero. In doing so, what assessment has he made of local authorities that have both declared a climate emergency and contributed to the preparation of business cases for these exciting possibilities for communities such as Eddisbury, which are still ill served by rail?

I thank my hon. Friend. I do think that local authorities that declare a climate emergency should be prepared to pay more than lip service to the issue. I was having a look and I understand, unfortunately, that the Labour-led Cheshire West and Chester Council is still refusing to contribute a mere £5,000 to his valiant efforts to reopen Beeston Castle and Tarporley station, the only potential station between Crewe and Chester.

In the past month, my constituents in Bath have been subjected to the pollution of helicopter joyrides flying low over Bath. Clearly, this type of leisure pursuit is hugely damaging to the environment and does nothing to get us to net zero. Currently, neither the Civil Aviation Authority nor Bath and North East Somerset Council has the power to intervene. Will the Minister meet me to find a way forward for my constituents?

I congratulate the hon. Lady for shoehorning that into this particular question. I am more than happy to arrange for her to meet my aviation Minister—the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts)—to discuss it.