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Sunak’s Rethink on Net Zero Targets Welcomed, but Hiatus in Other Policy Areas Must End

National Motorcycling Council calls on the Government to adopt the NMC’s approach to motorcycle decarbonisation – plus deliver in other policy areas.

News that Prime Minister Sunak is set to announce a revision of net-zero targets has been today welcomed by the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC). The Council has from the start advocated an approach to decarbonisation which follows international product, technical and market developments in this area, rather than imposing arbitrary UK-only targets based around just one type of technology – battery electric. Government must take a genuinely technology neutral approach to decarbonisation and support wider choice than just battery electric motorcycles alone – including supporting the ongoing development of clean fuel technology for internal combustion engines. Security of fuel supply for older and classic vehicles, as the new bike (and car) fleet decarbonises, is also essential.

The Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on motorcycle decarbonisation closed last year and since then the NMC has maintained close dialogue with officials on several areas and partnered industry on parliamentary activities and ministerial engagement. The Council’s position is clear; the motorcycling world needs certainty and a clear indication of the approach the Government intends to take. We seek early confirmation that the approach proposed in the 2022 consultation will now be re-thought.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “News of the Prime Minister’s rethink on net zero is very welcome. We look forward to common sense decisions which brings the UK into line with international developments in respect of decarbonisation. The NMC has long advocated that a sensible and pragmatic approach needs to be taken to motorcycle decarbonisation, working with international partners and supporting the development of a range of alternative technologies and fuels. We look forward to working with Ministers and officials on a new approach, which develops sustainable and realistic options that fully support the 2050 net zero target.”

As the current session of Parliament moves towards closure, with a King’s Speech on the 7th November due to announce Government business in what will be the final year of this Parliament, the NMC is also calling for the Government to finally bring certainty and make progress on a range of topics.

Several issues affecting motorcyclists remain outstanding, with Government announcements long overdue on a range of consultations which closed in some cases two years ago. The NMC highlighted several of these issues over a year ago and the Council is highly concerned about the limited progress which has taken place since then.

The launch of a new road safety framework was postponed before the 2022 summer recess and there have since been calls from several organisations for this to be published. The NMC is keen to see progress on motorcycle safety and in particular seeks better support for motorcycling in a new strategy. Safety investment is all too often directed at the ‘favoured’ modes in transport policy of walking, cycling and public transport, with investment in motorcycle safety not having the same priority as it is for these other modes. This in turn has sustained a more vulnerable environment for motorcyclists than should be the case. A better and more balanced approach is needed. Complete governmental hiatus in this area is both alarming and compromises efforts to reduce road casualty numbers.

Work on other areas of motorcycling at the DfT also needs to gain impetus, these include the much-needed review and changes to the current training and testing regime for those seeking a motorcycle licence. The establishment of the DVSA Motorcycle Strategic Focus Group early this year was a welcome and positive step, but Ministers must give this group the mandate it needs to make meaningful change to the licensing regime, so that the opportunity that the group represents is not wasted. The department has yet to announce its intentions on vehicle tampering after the consultation closed 21 months ago. Similarly, we have yet to hear what will be proposed on new e-scooter regulations, with the whole area now subject to further research in relation to potential regulations. There is still no news about any changes to MoT testing after a consultation on this closed several months ago. Plus, there are other statutory areas relating to motorcycle sport which also need attention. Activity within the department to understand and engage motorcycling as part of the wider future of transport strategy also needs to make further progress – particularly as motorcycling is an important personal transport choice for hundreds of thousands, as cost of living pressures continue.

Craig Carey-Clinch commented “In other areas of government business that relates to motorcycling, the ongoing delays in so many areas of policy, is creating huge uncertainty and makes future planning very difficult. Ministers must pay attention to these areas and get policy making processes moving again. The issues the NMC raise are just a snapshot of a wide range of areas where motorcycling deserves a proactive approach from Government. Many do interlink and illustrate the strong need for a more strategic approach to motorcycling in transport and other policies – as the Council set out in its publication ‘Motorcycling and the Future of Transport Policy’.”

But there are some positives. Over at DEFRA (Department for Environment Food Rural Affairs), some progress has been made, with a new body created to look at green roads motorised access issues as part of actions in relation to the NMC/Land Access & Recreation Association (LARA) lobby on the Landscapes Review. News that the Government’s full response to the Review is finally due to be published alongside protected landscapes legislation is welcome. Given the positive attitude of DEFRA minister Trudy Harrison when the Council met her recently, the NMC is seeking confirmation that there will be no new regulations to restrict the right to ride on both green roads and other tarmacked highways.

The Cabinet Office also provided direct support to the NMC, including liaising with EU member states on EU borders issues. This enabled the NMC to provide certainty to those transporting motorcycles in vans or on trailers across the EU border, so that riders can be confident that they won’t face unnecessary cost and bureaucracy. A further consultation on temporary imports is ongoing and the NMC is seeking further easements for those businesses that support riders on commercial shipping.

Written by Craig Carey-Clinch

More information about the National Motorcyclists Council and its members can be found here

Top image courtesy of FEMA