My Intervention on the Zero-emission vehicles, drivers and HS2 Ministerial Statement

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con):
Many councils apply for grants in order to make changes to their local roads. When considering these applications, will Ministers ensure that they do not end up paying for schemes that cut local capacity on crucial roads and make drivers’ lives a misery?

Mr Harper, Secretary of State for Transport:
My right hon. Friend makes a very good point about what we should prioritise when funding roads. He should know that one of the important changes I have made is to make sure that our active travel team is focused on delivering cycling and walking schemes that increase choice, rather than focusing on driving people out of their cars. I hope he will welcome that important change.


  1. Mark B
    October 18, 2023

    Good morning.

    . . . I have made is to make sure that our active travel team is focused on delivering cycling and walking schemes that increase choice, rather than focusing on driving people out of their cars.

    Is it me or does anyone else see the contradiction in that statement ?

    You are focusing on other modes of transport other than the car, yet claim to be delivering choice. The ‘Teams’ are committed to deliver ONLY cycling and walking, and that is it. That is not delivering choice as by nature the car is excluded or reduced in importance.

    1. Walt
      October 18, 2023

      Quite so, Mark. It is doublespeak and it appears to go unchallenged.

    2. Ian B
      October 18, 2023

      @Mark B +1
      We will do nothing that distracts from the punishment we need to inflict on society

    3. Timaction
      October 18, 2023

      Nail on the head and sits alongside their obsession with the net zero religion, a plant food.

    4. MFD
      October 18, 2023

      Well said Mark, in the moronic brain of SOME of these politicians, nobody is Eighty and old, decrepid or unable to walk , cycle to get about our daily chores as I am! The car is vital as I live four miles from nearest shops.
      Young twerps!

  2. Lifelogic
    October 18, 2023

    Every time you block a road you merely force people to drive further, spend more (wasted) time driving, use more fuel, cause more pollution and make the economy less competitive.

    Will Mark Harper also remove the blatant lies (or gross incompetence) on the government’s websites that falsely claim that walking and cycling produce no CO2 direct or indirect. He should also read the excellent report by Michael Kelly (a retired Prof. of Technology at Cambridge University) “Achieving Net Zero” On the site. It show the economic insanity and total impracticality of the Net Zero agenda – forced on to us by Theresa May and nearly all MPs (nearly all scientifically illiterate) and also it seems, to a large degree, one Carrie Johnson who seems to have converted Johnson from a climate realist to a net zero zealot and pushed for the mad Covid lockdowns it seems.

    Also we have adverts from energy companies talking about zero carbon renewable energy there is no zero carbon energy and nor is energy “renewable” long lasting perhaps but never “renewable”. Also EV car claim to be zero emission when they are more emissions but most is elsewhere cars. Though tyre wear is higher and is still where the vehicle is used.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 18, 2023

      Bus lanes often reduce overall road capacity by as much as 50% and thus lengthen journeys, waste people’s time and increase pollution too. Buses also rarely take direct door to door routes unlike cars. Bus occupancy on average is not 40+ as many think but more like 5-12 on average over the full day too. Usually less efficient per useful passenger than are cars and useless for carrying things, storing luggage/shopping and many trips are simply not possible by public transport or not possible without taking more than a day.

    2. Cliff.. Wokingham.
      October 18, 2023

      I wonder if I may ask a question about the whole net zero and MMCC agenda. I understand you are a science graduate of Cambridge University.
      Carbon is an element and I assume we cannot make more of it on Earth. It follows therefore, all our carbon is and always has been, already here.
      As I understand it, when we burn carbon based fuels, the carbon atoms combine with two oxygen atoms.
      At night, the CO2 is absorbed by plants which release the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Does it follow therefore, the more CO2 we produce, the more plants will grow and ensure the Earth stays balanced? Do we need to just increase our number of trees and keep population levels level or reduced?
      Thank you in anticipation.

      1. KB
        October 18, 2023

        It is true that total carbon on or within planet Earth has not been significantly changed since the early days of the solar system. There have been some comet/asteroid impacts but they have not added much compared to the amount already here.
        However what is of more concern is carbon within the biosphere. In the deep past, vast amounts of carbon were buried as calcium carbonate (chalk) and as coal, oil and gas, hence removing it from the biosphere. As a result the planet has a lot of free oxygen in its atmosphere.
        Plants in general do grow faster in CO2-enriched atmosphere, but the whole issue of carbon cycling is very complex. Too much to explain here I’m afraid.

      2. Lifelogic
        October 18, 2023

        Two (or sometime less frequently just one oxygen – the poisonous carbon monoxide if less O2 is around). But plants, trees, seaweed and crops take in CO2 and water and sunlight to produce hydrocarbon plant material and 02 – so not at night but during the day. Yes the more CO2 the more plant etc. growth you get it is used in green houses for this reason to get more crops from the same space.

        So yes the Carbon is largely here all the time but the small CO2 % in the air can vary, though the % actually tends to follow temperature and not the reverse and 40% of the last 150 years of rather slight warming is urban heat effect not greenhouse gas at all. Also CO2 is not even the main “greenhouse gas” clouds are far more important. We have had far higher levels of CO2 and we are in a relative dearth currency in longer historical terms. See William Happer A World in Carbon Drought video for example.

        1. Cliff.. Wokingham.
          October 18, 2023

          Thank you. Very interesting.

    3. Lifelogic
      October 18, 2023

      A statement on “Zero-emission vehicles” was it? So what are these “Zero Emission Vehicles” Mr Harper? There is no such thing as you must surely know full well. Electric vehicles, which are more emission cars (but these mainly elsewhere) vehicles. Though not the tyre wear which is about 30% higher on EVs due to higher weight.

      What next a government statement on the protection of unicorns? Though I did recently see a T-shirt saying “Protect the Chubby Unicorns” with a picture of a rhinoceros!

      1. Mickey Taking
        October 18, 2023

        What investigation is ever done (or has it been quashed by those companies involved in tyre production?) in making tyres with much less wear, breakdown into tiny particles etc? Any Government would do well to invest in research and focus on elimination of the need to have tyres perform at over 100mph.

        1. Lifelogic
          October 19, 2023

          Indeed there is a balance between wear, safe speeds, braking grip for emergencies. I did read about a company trying to make devices that suck in and collect the particles of tyre that are discarded within the car. But it sounded rather impractical to me.

          1. Mickey Taking
            October 19, 2023

            Think the high production on motor racing circuits of the fine particles and mass ‘marbles’ from speeding tyres that inevitably get rain washed into drainage systems. Where does all that end up, a clearer example perhaps of what must happen on our roads. Being essentially rubber would it all float or sink?

    4. Ian B
      October 18, 2023

      @Lifelogic +1
      It is about time this Conservative Government stood up for those that empowered them and pay their wages. They need to immediately stamp out all ‘green washing’ and insist on transparency and truth in all claims made.
      Just as with the tobacco signage, a full declaration of meaning and why the claim

    5. Bloke
      October 18, 2023

      “Increased choice” might sound good to Mark Harper but causes worse when ‘Let them eat Cake’ idiots are in charge.
      Forcing supermarkets to stock mud sandwiches and swamp water drinks would increase choice, but who wants an increase in things they abhor?

    6. jerry
      October 18, 2023

      @LL: Indeed, although we will have to agree to disagree about Lockdown’s, not that the UK actually had a Lockdown. The more I read the more I realize Boris Johnson was PM in name only, the real power appears to have been found on the other side of their bed, and I’m not talking about the Jack Russell either!

      As for bus occupancy, still better than the average car occupancy, 5-12 on average over the full day beats the average single occupancy for private cars or hire taxis (the latter excluding driver).

      But Mr Life, I’m surprised you are not all for Net-zero, given all the business ‘opportunities’ it brings, but I guess ever the hard nosed capitalist hates personal inconvenience. 🙂

    7. Timaction
      October 18, 2023

      ………Every time you block a road you merely force people to drive further,……………….this reflects several conversations I’ve had with tradesmen here in the last two years (the last an electrician who came to our home last week) with the ULEZ schemes in Bath/Bristol. It doesn’t stop them driving, they have to plan their routes to avoid them and drive further, defeating the whole point of the process. Fools one and all.

  3. Lynn Atkinson
    October 18, 2023

    For crying in a bucket! He confirms he is ‘actively’ funding the driving of cars off roads so that they are ‘safe for pedestrians and cyclists’.
    These geniuses closed the entire high street in one own close to me, and sold off 50 m of the only alternative route to an enclosed shopping centre which has no bin store, so keep all the bins on the Highway. Now all the traffic, including artics, go round the back lanes built for rubbish collection and other services, hindered by all the overflowing bins.
    The council say the high street is ‘much safer with no vehicles’. All the vehicles are now parking free at their new town centre where the supermarkets, drive-through fasts food and petrol stations are. Previously worthless council-owned land on a slag heap.
    Stupid as a fox.
    I’m asking them on their own premise, to ‘make tesco safe’. Ban all vehicles!

    1. Ian B
      October 18, 2023

      @Lynn Atkinson +1
      For the most part those in parliament don’t think! They don’t recognise those that empower them and pay their wages, always a virtue signal to massage those that would never vote for them. They compound the damage this Conservative Government does in denying the UK an economy and a future.

    2. jerry
      October 18, 2023

      @Lynn Atkinson; Foxes are anything but stupid!
      Those large out of town supermarkets pay whopping UBR, they often employ hundreds, not a handful, of staff, whilst many a High Street will be ripe for redevelopment before long, their close proximity to rail and bus transport links make them idea up-market residential ‘Dormitory’ areas with laid on infrastructure already present. Or am I being to cynical?

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        October 18, 2023

        Ironically the landlords of many of the huge ‘out-of-town’ retail facilities are the councils or councils in partnership with…
        I saw one superstore advertised for sale and enquired, especially about the business rates and the length of the lease. You see, if the property is untenanted then the landlord has to pay said rates. The lease on this store had only 5 years remaining and really, there are not a lot of alternative tenants who could take the space. The council was the owner. 😂🤣 the UBR ran into millions!
        It’s called ‘hoist by your own petard’. The CofE suffering the same death by 1,000 cuts it’s Metro centre nearly empty etc.
        Top tip: People hate covered shopping malls. Never by an investment property within one of those structures. They ALWAYS attract a tiny proportion of business done by road fronted shops.

        1. jerry
          October 18, 2023

          @Lynn Atkinson; Fortunately the UK has never gone big on shopping malls, given our weather, I’ve never understood why, but then as you seem to prove, the pull the antiquated High Street is great, must be our sentimental nature. 😆

          On a more serious note, Local Authorities should never have been allowed to invest in commercial property. There is a large retail park in my area, fortunately for the North West LA who appear to own it all the sheds are occupied, thus their CT payers are not loosing out..

  4. R.Grange
    October 18, 2023

    So Mark Harper has an ‘active travel team’. I think I’d like to know who they are, who monitors their work, what their qualifications are for what they’re doing and how they decide whether they are driving motorists out of their cars or not. If the use of cycle lanes is being used as a measure of success, they certainly have a long way to go, around where I live. If on the other hand it’s the number of cycle lanes installed, regardless of actual use by cyclists, I’m sure they’re congratulating themselves every week on another great success!

    Meanwhile motorists have to put up with the frustration of more road works, restricted road space, unrealistically low speed limits, and longer journeys.

  5. Donna
    October 18, 2023

    That’s basically an admission that for the past 13.5 years the Government and the Active Travel Team HAVE been focusing on and delivering cycling and walking schemes which were INTENDED to restrict choice and were designed in order TO force people out of their cars.

    No wonder the economy is wrecked (along with a great deal else) after 13.5 years of Blue-Green Socialism.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 18, 2023


  6. Mickey Taking
    October 18, 2023

    Is this Mr Harper really suggesting that ‘our active travel team is focused on delivering cycling and walking schemes that increase choice’ can provide cycling/walking where it didn’t exist before?
    Perhaps they are filling in streams to provide cycling/walking alternatives?

  7. Everhopeful
    October 18, 2023

    Just tell them that it is totally impossible to, on a mad whim, change a society based on the use of petrol fuelled vehicles. EVs are not viable for general use in any way shape or form.
    Never mind concessions and alternative plans.
    It can not be done.
    NOBODY really wants it EXCEPT in pretence for political reasons.
    For at least 200 years every aspect of life has been based on moving around. Horses gave way to faster less problematic and more profit making cars, vans, lorries, trains, trams, trolley buses, planes etc.
    Lives are based around transport. Every single facet.
    And people were not ever, ever meant to sit inside four walls staring at a screen for a lifetime.
    That is called PRISON.

  8. Bryan Harris
    October 18, 2023

    …active travel team is focused on delivering cycling and walking schemes….

    So not focused on making roads better!

    The reply tells us all we need to know about the direction HMG is going, and better road provision is clearly way down the list. In fact they seem to be encouraging reduction in road capacity, because that is the only thing that gets funding.

  9. Alan Paul Joyce
    October 18, 2023

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    Would that be the same ‘active travel team’ that designed the Oxford Scheme in conjunction with the local council?

    In Oxford, the county council set up six LTN’s with £3 million from the Government after ministers announced an “active travel” scheme meant to encourage walking and cycling.

    A joint report by the local bus service providers said “If the intention of the measures was to reduce the impact of car traffic on mobility and the public realm, it must surely be judged to have failed, and seriously so.” It adds: “The intention of LTNs to make walking more attractive has not been achieved; rather the evidence suggests that the contrary is true.” The report criticises the council for ploughing ahead at “great speed” for the “near-complete removal of motorised traffic from inner areas of the city” but “with no material consideration of likely wider effects”.

    Mr. Harper’s ‘active travel team’ has managed to make walking less attractive, made local bus services even slower and has driven traffic away from inner city roads. Well done!

  10. Christine
    October 18, 2023

    We have plenty of new roads in our area. They are marketed as by-passes yet they bypass nothing. We all know their real purpose is to open up our beautiful countryside for even more new builds.

  11. jerry
    October 18, 2023

    “[the Minister replied] our active travel team is focused on delivering cycling and walking schemes that increase choice, rather than focusing on driving people out of their cars.”

    Typical Whitehall double speak, deigning doing one thing, having just actively claimed to be doing it!

    The only places I have seen were cycling and walking schemes have zero impact on motor traffic (or vise-versa) are in the New Towns that were built with segregated travel routes from the outset, using underpasses, bridges or very wide verges etc. to remove conflict and danger. But then such places were by and large empty fields before the Bulldozers arrived, nor built on the cheap.

  12. hefner
    October 18, 2023

    Today is published the Second National Infrastructure Assessment, a 222-page document with much shorter (~2 pages) executive summary on
    It covers low-carbon technologies, electrification, public transport, Gigabit network, water supply, waste management, leakage and flooding.

    It has a 30-year view of the country’s infrastructure needs, i.e., there is little chance that the present-day politicos who rarely look further than the next GE will consider it.
    Unfortunately both my children and grand-children will (hopefully) still be around after 2050.

    1. jerry
      October 18, 2023

      @hefner; “there is little chance that the present-day politicos who rarely look further than the next GE will consider it ..//.. Unfortunately both my children and grand-children will (hopefully) still be around after 2050.”

      As will many, but having had 30 plus years of eco-woke shoved down their throats many of our children and grand-children would be happy to live in a mud hut if ‘Saint Greta’ told them… Or have I miss-read your comment.

      222 pages of mostly unnecessary bumph from NIC, wanting to re-inventing a square wheel!

      There is a natural drainage river near me, in recent years there has been meaningful floods, not just to the designated flood plains but the urban areas too, causing loss to both businesses and residents, but also in recent years the Environment Agency has neither dredged the river nor kept its banks clear of reeds etc., yet the floods get blamed on climate change, not Govt Agency penny pinching whilst citing a need to protect the natural habitat -bonuses duty earnt, no doubt.

    2. jerry
      October 18, 2023

      @hefner; You do realize that the NIC is hardly an unbiased committee, given their remit, it would go against their terms of reference to suggest Net-zero by 2050, or ever, was the wrong path, they are duty bond to “support climate resilience and the transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.” -page 2, inside front cover, of their Second National Infrastructure Assessment.

    3. Mickey Taking
      October 19, 2023

      sounds like great raw material for a dystopian novel?

  13. IanT
    October 18, 2023

    Pleased to see you raising this Sir John – as I mentioned a day or two ago, Active Travel have just paid Wokingham BC £606,000 to simply “design” (plan) a cycle/walkway over the 1.6 miles to Winnersh. Over a half a million pounds just to think about doing it – nothing has actually been constructed. Complete Fiscal Lunacy. Yet apparently Mr Hunt is unable to find any savings in expenditure to cut taxes. That is very hard to believe quite frankly (Hint – £20B in Carbon Capture?)

    However, let me also propose that he doesn’t actaully cut taxes but simply ends fiscal drag. He won’t of course, stealth taxes (by their nature) didn’t make any waves when announced, so stealth cuts wouldn’t have the desired headline ‘Wow’ factor either. No, I’m sure he’d much prefer something that costs the Treasury little but sounds ultra generous to the massses. The candles must be burning late at night in the Treasury. What slight of hand can they conjure up? It’s far too late I’m afraid, the Wizard has been exposed. People have seen behind the curtain and smoke and mirrors won’t work any more (as Tamworth will confirm later this week).

    Your Party needs to go to the wilderness and remember what it is to be conservative – not liberal. In the meantime, because of your party’s identity crisis, the country will have to suffer a Starmer Government and whatever that entails. Who knows (does Starmer?) but I imagine it will not be very pleasant.

    1. Timaction
      October 18, 2023

      Indeed. I came to the same conclusion a while ago. Punishment (Starmer) before REFORM for our Country. The Tory’s, a former conservative party, are dead.

      1. jerry
        October 18, 2023

        @Timaction; Vote Reform and we most certainly will get REFORM, by way of a Starmer govt!

    2. Mickey Taking
      October 18, 2023

      May I suggest a design that takes in a route via Hurst, Cantley and subsequently Wokingham?
      Could be done on the back of a fag packet and allow almost £600k to be spent on fixing potholes and removing nonsense road signage. The construction cost would of course be easily 3 times the cheapest envisaged and hopefully be abandoned by Government budget.

      1. Mickey Taking
        October 20, 2023

        My wife has now received a travel update on this nonsense. Looking at the example it can be seen that there will be just about enough width each side of the road for a car, tight for buses and wide lorries. The speed limit will be lowered to 30mph – WHY? Separation is made between pedestrians and cyclists thus further reducing flexibility on the road, what happens when post-vans, tradesmen vehicles, delivery and casual parking is required? The pedestrian and cycle lanes will be created on BOTH sides of the road. Then strangely, the new design will run between Sadlers Lane (only just in Winnersh) and the start of Broad St. It is all waste of money MADNESS.

    3. jerry
      October 18, 2023

      @Ian T; “[the] Party needs to go to the wilderness and remember what it is to be conservative – not liberal.”

      Except that is exactly what they have been doing since Cameron resigned as PM in 2016, and it is driving the party towards an abyss. Seven years of party navel gazing, forgetting that they were elected on a more liberal mandate and only a single issue [1] GE brought about the Tory landslide of 2019, not old school illiberal Conservatism – I bet most who voted Conservative in 2019 never even looked at the manifesto, never mind read it.

      “the country will have to suffer a Starmer Government and whatever that entails. Who knows (does Starmer?) but I imagine it will not be very pleasant.”

      Yes I believe Starmer does have a vision, but I agree, for those who do not accept the eco-woke lies it will not be very pleasant, but then for many 18 years of Thatcherism wasn’t very pleasant either. If there is £20B for tax cuts, there is also £20B for much needed social and infrastructure needs; subsidies for rural bus route, more NHS dentists, not just pothole repairs but proper resurfacing (that should be popular with road cyclists!), etc. Might not be popular with the Canary Wharf set but it will be beyond, in the ‘Red Wall’ areas, out in the Shires.

      [1] quite possibly Corbyn, not Brexit!

      1. IanT
        October 18, 2023

        I admire your faith in Starmer Jerry but he simply will not have any solutions to offer.

        The cupboard was bare by the end of Labour’s last time in office but (should they get back in) they will find that even the cupboard has now been hocked. Starmer cannot promise anything because he knows full well that there is simply nothing left. ‘Big’ (e.g. socialist) Government requires heavy taxation and it’s exactly those ‘Red Wall’ voters who will be paying for it. “Tax the Rich” is a socialist fantasy, the really rich are multinational, they can ‘up & off’ and they are already doing so. They can afford all the ‘eco’ luxuries (EVs, Heat Pumps etc). it’s the poor that ULEZ is hurting, not the Canary Wharfe crowd. It’s also ordinary folk that fiscal drag hurts most, because freezing tax thresholds hurts them far more than anyone earning a very large salary. Simply put, you cannot tax your way into prosperity and fiscal drag is the boat anchor that will keep us down. You have to leave something in peoples wallets or you remove all incentive to work harder…

        1. jerry
          October 19, 2023

          @IanT, “Starmer cannot promise anything because he knows full well that there is simply nothing left.”

          So how come the right-wing can promise, after all even Reform UK has a vision, makes promises; perhaps you’re just being defeatist, would you prefer if The Sun simply reprints their front page from Thursday 9 April 1992, but this time place all the party leaders within the light bulb?!

          “Simply put, you cannot tax your way into prosperity”

          I thought we were discussing the next general election, not the last two. Starmer set out a vision, as did Sunak, neither have published their manifesto taxation policies yet, I will judge each once they do.

          And regardless of what some on the right suggest, you cannot cut taxes as your way to national prosperity either, only personal enrichment. If the beneficiaries of tax cuts then refuse to invest in UK Plc it really doesn’t matter which party is in govt, turn the lights out, 1992 style please.

          “You have to leave something in peoples wallets or you remove all incentive to work harder…”

          I doubt many beyond the “Red Wall” need any lessons from Canary Wharf on that, many went from well paid jobs between 1950 and 1979, being the powerhouse of the nations prosperity, to 18 lean years.

  14. glen cullen
    October 18, 2023

    So its government policy ….build cycle-lanes and don’t repair pot-hole, social engineering the people away from cars !
    At least I know where you stand at the next election

    1. Lifelogic
      October 18, 2023

      Indeed and what do they think will be achieved by this mad anti-competitive agenda?

  15. Elli
    October 18, 2023

    We elected a large conservative majority, alas, sufficient number are as wet and sensible as LibDem’s , rendering their ability to govern as Conservatives at near zero.
    I hoped that getting rid of bounder Boris will improve our prospects, but Rishi is unelectable by the British people and even the Conservative members rejected him and Hunt.

    Sir Redwood, your comments, interventions and interviews are spot on, but it looks like a 5 year Starmer disaster is on the cards.

  16. ChrisS
    October 18, 2023

    Cycling might well be seen by the green lobby as preferable but people make choices and every cycle lane I have ever seen is deserted, while cars queue to use the reduced number of lanes for vehicles.

    The Government needs to base its assessments on the actual use to which the cycle lanes will be used.
    Given how little they are actually used, I would imagine the loss of life will be greater from the delays caused to Ambulance and Fire service vehicles thanks to the narrow lanes, than the reduced number of cyclists killed or injured because of the presence of an unused cycle lane.

    It isn’t just cycle lanes that are ill judged : even that non-driver Drakeford is only claiming that, at most, his ludicrous 20mph limit would save ten lived a year at huge cost to the public. Every life is precious but we can be sure that his claim was the most optimistic assessment possible!

  17. KB
    October 18, 2023

    I think that reply is very clear in its message. The war on cars continues, and it is funded by central government.

  18. Original Richard
    October 18, 2023

    The “Active Travel Team” is another cost to the taxpayer as a result of the Net Zero Strategy designed to give us “abundant, cheap, British renewables….and ensure reliable power is always there at the flick of a switch” (P19).

    How many civil servants work in this team and what is their annual budget for this work?

    Whilst some may be simple, deluded believers in the CAGW scam, there will be some who see “active travel” as another way to actively cause chaos, misery and additional expense to further their desire to impoverish the country and put in place the authoritarian state needed to implement Net Zero.

  19. dixie
    October 19, 2023

    “I don’t believe you”, Harper & Co are simply offering a badly fitting fig leaf.
    For the last decade HMG has been funding anti car policies and practices, particularly if London and Wokingham borough are anything to go by.
    PS – urban areas simply do not have the space to offer additional “active travel” options, if you want segregated cycle lanes you have to take it from the roadway space. Wokingham practices in this regard have narrowed roads and so make it impossible to legally pass a slow cyclist.
    This new “policy” is simply electioneering bullshit.

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