UK General Election – Party Promises for Greener Transportation

On the 22nd of May 2024, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, announced that a general election would be taking place in the country on the 4th of July. As a result, various UK political parties began to release their election manifestos, outlining their proposed policies. But what does this mean for the future of UK sustainable transportation? Here are five of the leading UK political parties’ plans for making UK transportation more sustainable.

The Labour Party has outlined several of its general plans for developing the transportation sector if it were to win a majority seat in its 2024 Change Labour Party Manifesto. Labour intends to implement a ten-year transportation infrastructure plan, combining National Infrastructure and Service authorities while constructing new railways, reservoirs and roads and repairing existing ones. In terms of making transportation more sustainable, Labour recalls its 2023 Automotive Sector plan. This involves accelerating the construction of EV (electric vehicle) charge points across the country, phasing out cars with internal combustion engines by 2030, and standardising the information supplied on electric car batteries to support second-hand EV buyers.

The Conservative party has similarly promised to develop the transportation sector in their 2024 Conservative Manifesto. The Conservatives promise to invest £4.7 billion into the north and Midlands to spend on transport facilities as well as spending £1.75 billion on boosting rail connectivity in these areas. The Conservatives have also promised to invest in sustainable transportation: rolling out charging stations for EV’s across the country and delivering on the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, which also aims to support jobs in this sector. Furthermore, the Conservatives assert that they will back a British Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate and invest further in the sustainable aviation industry.  

The Liberal Democrats have promised to deliver a fair deal for the environment in their 2024 manifesto, highlighting the need to produce cleaner energy that can be reinvested into clean transport and industry. The Liberal Democrats aim to invest in zero-carbon transportation, industry and homes while also making it easier for people to switch to electric vehicles. This will be achieved by ensuring that every new car and small van sold after 2030 is emission-free and electrifying more of the UK’s railways. The Liberal Democrats also promise to invest in carbon-free flight research and fund the construction of more cycleways and pathways across the UK to promote sustainable short-distance travel.

The Green Party is promising the most comprehensive plan for sustainable transport in their 2024 election manifesto. Their primary policies include a £2.5 billion investment into new footpaths and cycleways across the UK to promote eco-friendly travel. They also plan to reimagine the uses of streets to make them more accessible for community use and to reduce traffic. In addition to this, they aim to adopt Active Travel England’s objective of ensuring that 50% of trips within England’s towns and cities are able to be travelled sustainably by walking, cycling or wheeling by 2030. The Green Party also aims to reduce emissions in the aviation industry. This will be achieved by pushing for a frequent flyer levy, banning domestic flights that would take less than three hours by train and halting the expansion of new airport capacities. 

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has put forward in their 2024 manifesto a plan to make UK transportation cleaner and more sustainable. The SNP aim to transition to zero-emission transport fuels across the UK while also banning the import and sale of non-emission-free buses by 2025. The SNP will also push for the UK government to support the production of sustainable bridging fuels in the maritime and aviation sectors. Furthermore, the SNP will establish a low-income EV car leasing fund backed by at least £500 million to promote the purchasing of electric vehicles for low-income families. The SNP also promised to invest in safer roads in rural areas that cannot quickly adapt transport infrastructure to be more ecological.

Ultimately, while sustainable transportation is not at the forefront of the majority of party policies, all five leading UK political parties have promised to invest in and support the development of sustainable transportation. The reoccurring focus by various parties on the long-term development of more ecological transport highlights that making public transport systems within the UK is a prominent long-term issue for the future of UK politics and transport infrastructure itself.