My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) has made the following ministerial statement:
In November 2020, the Prime Minister announced his 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. Its aim is to build back better from the pandemic, to use our recovery to level up the country, to scale up new industries and to support new green jobs across our industrial heartlands and throughout the United Kingdom as we work towards net zero by 2050.
Now, following the UK’s demonstration of global leadership on climate change, as President and host of COP 26, I am pleased to tell the House that we continue to deliver on that plan. In Bus Back Better we committed to set a legal end date for the sale of new diesel buses—today we are launching a consultation to set an end date for the sale of new, non-zero emission buses across the UK, working together across the United Kingdom to provide certainty to the market, stimulating innovation and investment in alternative approaches and encourage local authorities and bus operators to plan together to deliver a decarbonised bus fleet.
Buses are at the centre of the public transport network, connecting people right across the country, playing a vital role in fostering and strengthening communities, reducing congestion and helping build a high-growth, high-productivity economy across the UK. Buses are already one of the most environmentally friendly ways of travelling, and this policy will go further, ensuring that their future operation produces no carbon impact—with no negative impact on passengers.
Last year, the Government published the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which set out our plans to decarbonise all transport. The plan reaffirmed the crucial role that public transport has in tackling climate change, with buses having an integral position at the centre of the public transport network—but also recognising the huge contribution from the coach and minibus industry.
To this end we are today launching a consultation on setting an end date for the sale of new non-zero emission buses, at the very latest by 2032. Importantly this consultation also sets out calls for evidence on setting an end of sales date for coaches and minibuses.
Late last year, we announced almost £71 million in new funding to support 335 zero-emission buses across five local areas in England, and on Saturday we announced almost £200 million in further funding, for almost 1,000 more zero emission buses—delivering on our promise to build 4,000 new zero-emission buses right across the country. We will continue to go further and provide greater support for zero-emission buses through the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, from April 2022, ahead of a wider reform to refocus the scheme on reducing emissions, levelling up and keeping fares low.
This Government’s National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better, lays out actions to drive this transition to zero-emission buses. This consultation begins to deliver one of the key commitments in the strategy. We want zero-emission buses not only to be the right choice environmentally but to be the default choice for operators economically, with maintenance and fuel saving costs making it the only logical purchasing decision.
As we recover from covid-19, we are putting transport at the heart of our decisions. Building back better and greener will make our economy more sustainable and resilient, help us deliver cleaner air and lower carbon emissions, and benefit passengers across the country. Accelerating the transition to a zero-emission bus fleet is absolutely key to this.