I believe passionately in protecting our natural environment. Along with tackling climate change, this is one of the most important issues of our generation. I want to do all that I can to ensure that the world we pass on to the next generation is greener and more sustainable. Our effort must be a collaborative one which involves governments, businesses, and communities. I have asked the Government to double down on efforts to protect nature.
Conservation and Natural Environment:
- I am a strong advocate of greater protection for our green-belt. I am working with residents to enhance access to green space and ensure that brownfield sites are always considered first when it comes to planning future housing developments.
- As well as being vital habitats for wildlife, I know how important the Smestow Brook and Graiseley Brook are for the health and wellbeing of those who visit them. I am devastated that the quality of our inland waterways has not improved in four years, and I am determined to see them cleaned up. I welcome the steps that the Government is taking on this subject. It will publish a plan for tackling sewage discharges and water companies will be obliged to provide annual data so we can measure progress.
- Air pollution poses one of the biggest environmental threats to public health. Our ambitious plan is to decarbonise transport, improve air quality, and support more active forms of travel, including the £3.8 billion already investing to clean up our air. Wolverhampton is part of the 2017 UK plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. For Wolverhampton, this includes the retrofitting of the existing bus fleet and the implementation of traffic management measures.
- I am pleased that the City of Wolverhampton Council has been allocated £500,000 to upgrade roads across Wolverhampton South West. This important new funding will help cut congestion, boost safety, and reduce journey times and emissions, supporting both the economy and the environment.
- We now have over 25,000 public chargepoints available across the UK as well as over 4,500 rapid chargers. But we realise there is still much to do and the pace needs to be increased to reach our net zero 2050 goals. That is why we have pledged £2.8 billion to support industry and drivers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles. This includes up to £1 billion to help cement the UK’s leading position in the design and manufacture of zero emission vehicles; £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll out of charging infrastructure; and £582 million for vehicle grants to reduce the upfront cost to motorists making the switch.
- Our Transport Decarbonisation Plan made it clear that, to decarbonise transport, we don’t need to stop doing things; we just need to do them differently. Switching to zero emission vehicles will help us meet our emission targets, clean up the air in our communities, creating healthier places.
Cycling and Walking
- I am pleased that Ministers have pledged to invest an additional £2 billion in cycling and walking and committed to publishing a national cycling plan, as well as an updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. The first stage of this £2 billion investment will be a £250 million emergency active travel fund. The Fund is intended to deliver new pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, cycle and bus-only corridors, safer junctions and wider pavements. Wolverhampton has received more than £1 million in funding to enhance transport infrastructure and improve access for pedestrians and cyclists.
Greener, Warmer Homes
- I have called on the Government to double down on its efforts to help elderly and working-age residents save money on utility bills and make it easier to access to affordable energy efficiency schemes. Work is underway to make as many homes as possible reach Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035 where practical, cost-effective, and affordable. Households struggling with their bills are eligible for insulation measures, including solid wall insulation, through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
- Winter Fuel Payments is the biggest government-funded scheme paid to pensioners, and will continue to be available to all pensioners. The Cold Weather Payments is also available and the Warm Home Discount provides over one million vulnerable pensioners with a £140 rebate on their energy bills. It is being expanded by £475 million per year to reach over 750,000 more households.
- The Simple Energy Advice can be used to find accredited installers for measures under the Scheme. There is also a non-digital route for elderly and vulnerable homeowners to search for suitable installers. Homeowners can contact 0800 444 202 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.