Rishi Sunak faces backlash over step back from Net Zero promises
Rishi Sunak has been dealt a stark warning by rural voters, just before his big speech on Net Zero.
A new survey published by the Countryside Alliance sets out how the Tory vote could be hugely damaged by the Government moving ahead with a ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
The survey of over 500 rural Brits shows a whopping 60 percent oppose the policy, versus just 7 percent who do.
A mere 25 percent would only support the policy if the ban were pushed back to 2040.
Asked why they oppose a ban, the lack of rural charging points compared to urban areas, the cost of vehicles and the limited range of current electric cars are all barriers to moving away from petrol and diesel vehicles.
READ MORE: Boris Johnson tells Rishi Sunak not to ‘falter’ and abandon Net Zero
The most eye-catching response from the survey is the political implication of such a ban among rural voters.
While 49 percent said it would not impact their intentions of voting for the Conservatives, 29 percent said it makes them less or very unlikely to vote for Mr Sunak’s party at the next General Election.
While the Countryside Alliance survey was not specific to Mr Sunak’s constituency, his own rural North Yorkshire constituency is full of the type of voter concerned about access to charging points, cost of electric cars and range.
Sarah Lee, director of policy at the Countryside Alliance, told the Express that rural people could, in theory, be just as likely to purchase electric cars as those in town and cities, “but we need to be realistic about how the current charging infrastructure will act as a significant barrier at the moment, including in rural constituencies like Richmond, North Yorkshire, the Prime Minister’s own patch”.
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“No one wants to find themselves stranded in a remote area in the middle of the night because they are miles from the nearest charging point, nor do they want to queue for hours for the only charging point in the village to become available.
“When it comes to the vehicle itself, manufacturers will need to appreciate that many rural people live in areas where their vehicle will need to withstand rough terrain and cope in extreme weather, so the market will need to diversify beyond what it is currently.
“As with every decision taken by government, it is vital they consider the reality and needs of rural communities at the early stages of policy formation.
“The countryside can’t just be expected to play catch up with urban areas when they don’t have access to the same levels of infrastructure”.
The warning from rural voters, who have historically been a core group the Tories need to win over, comes an hour before Mr Sunak is set to deliver a major speech from Downing Street.
The Prime Minister is expected to row back on a number of key Net Zero commitments, including the date by which a ban on buying new petrol and diesel cars will come into force.
Presently, they are set to be phased out by 2030, however it’s understood Mr Sunak will push that back by five years.
Those using off-grid gas boilers, another key rural concern, will also be relieved, as Mr Sunak is expected to delay a ban by nine years.
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