Michelle Donelan Responds

See previous Letter to Michelle: http://www.transcoco.org.uk/letter-to-michelle-donelan/

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your reply.

I can confirm that the claim you reference in your first line is absolutely incorrect. It is not a government claim that C02 has fallen by nearly 40% since 1990, it is a scientific fact. I would urge you to read the following short brief: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-why-the-uks-co2-emissions-have-fallen-38-since-1990 . I would also urge you to consider that the 40% is figure is actually rather conservative in its use, given that growing population figures meant that emissions were due to rise by 25% since 1990, which the 40% figure does not include. Dishonest or even creative accounting of the numbers would encourage us to say that there has been a 65% decrease (calculated to include the emissions that otherwise would have been produced since 1990), but we did not do so as this would indeed be misleading.

With regard to transport-related emissions, I would respectfully point out that roads do not cause emissions. It is vehicles that cause emissions. So expanding the road network does not necessarily mean that emissions will rise as a result. On the contrary, poor road networks mean far greater fuel consumption where cars are sat in traffic – where cars run with considerably less fuel efficiency and for much longer than necessary. Equally, a better road network is joined-up with the Government’s plans on electric cars. We have now committed £1.2bn to invest in the electric car market, meaning that the new road network will be populated by electric cars rather than petrol or diesel cars.

You also make a very salient point about electric car production, particularly the environmental impact of the batteries. However, in an environmental cost/benefit analysis of electric cars it is clear that they are currently beneficial for the environment and in the future will be hugely more so. The manufacturing of the batteries does indeed have a larger cost to the environment than an ICE equivalent, but the operational life of the product is monumentally higher. For example, the soon to be released Tesla will have an operational life of 1,000,000 miles – over double the average number of miles driven in a lifetime by the average motorist. I would also add that the electric car industry is in its infancy, meaning that innovations in cleaner manufacturing are still to come as more motorists choose electric.

With regard to cycling, you have gone into plenty of detail for which I am grateful, so to go over this in more detail I would suggest meeting in person. However as a quick response, I agree with you that we need more cycling infrastructure, particularly in towns and cities. However, I would urge you to consider those who are less able to cycle, given that you want primacy to be placed on cycling rather than cars. Children under-15 and older people over-65 together make up nearly 40% of the UK population – a large number of which will not be able to cycle as a primary or even secondary means of transport.

However, I have been supporting Wiltshire Council’s efforts to obtain more funding for cycle routes as I think those who can and want to cycle should be encouraged to do so and have the infrastructure to safely do so. I myself do not drive a car and travel in cars sparingly, so getting public transport in Wiltshire addressed is something I have been working on since Day 1 of being an MP. Incidentally, I did consider cycling to each surgery when I did one per day around Wiltshire last Summer, however I found that the routes proved to be often dangerous for a cyclist on their own, as I am sure you may have found, which precisely illustrates the problem.

Thank you once again for your email and if you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to come along to one of my surgeries.

Kind regards,

Michelle Donelan

Member of Parliament for Chippenham constituency