The Conservative government unveiled fresh plans on Friday (29) to “support drivers” and push back “anti-car measures,” particularly in opposition-led areas where restrictions on motor vehicle usage are imposed under the guise of environmental protection.
“The clamp down on drivers is an attack on the day-to-day lives of most people across the UK who rely on cars to get to work or see their families,” Prime minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement announcing the new plans.
“This week the UK government will set out a long-term plan to back drivers, slamming the brakes on anti-car measures across England. We are taking the necessary decision to back the motorists who keep our country moving.”
Among the measures announced Friday — two days ahead of the annual Conservative Party conference — were plans to review guidance on 20-mile-per-hour (32kph) speed limits and “prevent their blanket use in areas where it’s not appropriate”, according to the statement.
The document also takes aim at “15-minute cities”, an urban planning concept that advocates putting essential services within walking or biking distance of residents to reduce pollution.
“The plans also aim to stop councils implementing so called ’15-minute cities’, by consulting on ways to prevent schemes which aggressively restrict where people can drive,” the statement says.
The announcement comes after the Welsh government, led by Labour first minister Mark Drakeford, lowered the maximum driving speed in some residential areas from 30mph to 20mph, a decision denounced by Conservatives.
And since the end of August, a tax on the most polluting vehicles has been extended to the whole of Greater London at the initiative of Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.
The move was seen as causing a Labour candidate to lose to his Conservative opponent in a by-election this summer in a west London constituency.
Within the Conservative party, which is lagging in the polls ahead of an expected general election, the measure has awakened support for a slowdown in efforts to fight climate change in the name of defending the British economy.
Earlier this month, Sunak announced Britain would be adopting a more “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach to meeting its net zero emissions target.
The new strategy will include pushing back a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.