The Department estimates that a minimum of £4.4 billion is likely to be required to meet its cycling and walking objectives to 2025; and further, that a minimum of £5.5 billion is likely to be required to meet the objectives to 2030. The actual amount will depend on a wide variety of factors.
I am sure the Minister agrees that there is nothing nicer than seeing schoolchildren in local streets learning in a supervised way how to cycle safely, particularly as interest in cycling has grown post pandemic. Will she commit today to ensuring sufficient funding for every single local authority to maintain its cycling classes, so that children can learn and so that we can tackle air pollution together by having more children cycling safely on streets and being taught manners and the best way to cycle in our local environments?
I agree that it is important to learn from a young age how to cycle safely. That will ensure that as children grow older, they are more willing to engage in active travel rather than being in cars. I can assure the hon. Lady that the Government will offer cycle training to every primary school child in England, building on the record of 500,000 training places offered in 2022-23.
Earlier this month, 250 cyclists, including me, took part in the Cycle Winchester mass ride around the city. I also joined the school cycle bus from Twyford into Winchester during the conference recess, which was potentially a better use of my time. We are excited by the mini-Holland schemes in Hampshire that are already being invested in. In a few weeks, I will take a walk around the city to see the work that we have done investing in those plans. Can the Minister tell me whether the Government are committed to the active travel fund and when the fourth tranche of applications to it will open?
I am delighted to hear about my hon. Friend’s active travel. I remember that his constituency has a very impressive company that converts bicycles to electric bicycles. Announcements in relation to the fourth fund will be considered and made in due course.
The Minister has just outlined the fact that nearly £10 billion of investment will be required to meet the targets. One of the only good things to come out of covid has been the expansion of cycling networks and opportunities. Will she guarantee to the House today that that will not be one of the areas that has to be cut as a result of the Government’s economic plans?
I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that we have already spent significant funds on active travel. There are core funds available, but there are also funds from other Departments, such as the levelling-up fund, the highways maintenance fund and the future high streets fund. Much of that money is already committed. I remind the hon. Gentleman about the poor record of the Labour party, whose funding for active travel was significantly less than we have already put in to this important area.