21 September 2023

Scotland will have to delay ban on new petrol car sales after PM’s move – SNP

21 September 2023

Scotland will have to push back its ban on new petrol and diesel cars to 2035 after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a delay to his plan, the SNP has said.

Dave Doogan, the party’s energy spokesman at Westminster, said the Scottish Government will not be able to stick to its target of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 because the country is “snared” into the UK Internal Market Act.

Mr Sunak on Wednesday eased a series of green pledges, including pushing back the ban by five years to 2035.

In an interview on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the SNP MP was asked how the Prime Minister’s announcement affects the Scottish Government target.

I don’t think it can be underestimated how foolish and irresponsible it is for the UK Government to create a market environment and then three years later create an entirely different market environment

Mr Doogan said: “We will have to move to 2035 because even if the Scottish Government did have the authority to intervene in that particular legislation, which is reserved to the Department for Transport and its agencies, principally the DVLA, we are snared in the United Kingdom into the Internal Market Act, which would see the UK Government intervene in any policy undoubtedly which created a difference between the market in Scotland and the market in the rest of the United Kingdom.

“What we’d have to be very careful if we decided to do that is that we didn’t put our motor manufacturing retail business at a strategic disadvantage by operating in a way that was completely different to that which was in England, resulting in cross-border trade to access vehicles that you couldn’t access in Scotland, so it’s a complex dynamic and of course at the base of all of this is the fact that the UK Government didn’t consult the Scottish Government on any of this.”

Mr Doogan described the UK Government decision to push the ban back to 2035 as an “unprecedented tragedy for the automotive industry in the United Kingdom”.

He said: “The market environment was set out by the Conservative Government in 2020 and industry has been gearing up and tooling up and investing in that market environment, only to find out as of yesterday from the Prime Minister that they’re actually now operating in a completely different environment.

“They’ve been establishing a market supply chain that will provide a greater proportion of electric vehicles by a time of around 2030, where now UK consumers will be in a position to continue to buy internal combustion engine cars, so they’ll have a mismatch between market demand and product availability that they’ve been tooling up for on the basis of Government market instruction.

“I don’t think it can be underestimated how foolish and irresponsible it is for the UK Government to create a market environment and then three years later create an entirely different market environment.”

An urgent question on the issue will be answered in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

Douglas Lumsden, net-zero spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said the Prime Minister is being “honest” with people, adding: “It’s about delivering net zero in a sensible way, pragmatic way that doesn’t place all of the cost and burdens on ordinary working people.”

He also told the programme: “We’re not falling asleep at the wheel. If you look at changes to the cars for example, that’s just bringing us in line with the rest of the EU.

“In the key area of us reducing our emissions, we are still leading the way.”

The issue was raised during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, with Deputy First Minister Shona Robison – who was standing in for Humza Yousaf as he visits New York – hitting out at the PM’s announcement while she was questioned by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross on the environment.

Ms Robison said: “Douglas Ross is very brave going on this subject today, in a week where his Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has essentially pulled the rug from under the net zero ambitions, not just of the UK, but potentially damaging the net zero ambitions of Scotland.

“That doesn’t just damage the environment, it damages jobs into the process and he should be ashamed to stand side by side with Rishi Sunak on that matter.”

She went on to say that Mr Yousaf’s “ambitions are to meet the net zero targets, showing leadership, unlike the Prime Minister who’s ditching net zero targets”, as she urged Mr Ross to “grow a backbone”.

In response to a later question from Green MSP Mark Ruskell, Ms Robison said the shift by the PM is an attempt to appeal to the Tories’ “core vote”, adding: “Which is essentially culture wars, anti-migrants and now anti-environment.

“What an unappealing, negative, backward-looking, small-minded prospectus that is and it will be roundly rejected by the Scottish people once again.”

The UK Government has been asked for comment.

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