RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Tacking climate change only for the little people

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Tackling climate change? That’s only for the little people. Parp! Parp!

Having bid a reluctant farewell to my 12-year old diesel SUV, I’ve spent the past week familiarising myself with my nearly new, ULEZ-compliant hybrid.

After salesman Prav, from Lexus Hatfield, helped me turn off all those infuriating ‘safety features’ which go ‘beep’ every few seconds, and I eventually worked out how to store Ken Bruce on the digital radio, it was time to put the car through its paces.

This wasn’t a tyre-screeching, Turbo Nutter Bastard, Clarkson-style spectacular, more a leisurely crawl around suburban North London.

Out of curiosity, I deliberately chose several roads restricted to 20 mph to see how easy it is to stick to the lower limit rapidly becoming the new normal everywhere.

Answer: it isn’t.

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Out of curiosity, I deliberately chose several roads restricted to 20 mph to see how easy it is to stick to the lower limit rapidly becoming the new normal everywhere

Elsewhere in the country major cities like Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool have also seen the introduction of low speed zones 

Yesterday the blanket 20 mph limit came into force across Wales, in the teeth of fierce opposition. Almost half the population of the UK now lives in residential areas where 20 is the maximum speed allowed by law.

For the record, and in case anyone gets the impression that I’m some kind of boy racer, I don’t drive that much and I’ve long been in favour of cutting the 30 mph limit where appropriate – such as outside schools and playgrounds.

But the imposition of 20 mph zones on main roads is a bridge too far. And the penalties for straying a few miles an hour over the limit are out of all proportion.

For instance, a couple of months ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was fined more than £500 and given three penalty points for doing 25 mph on London’s Albert Embankment, where until fairly recently 30 mph was perfectly legal.

Given that ‘Wokeby’ buys into the whole eco-racket used to justify everything from ULEZ to low traffic neighbourhoods, his punishment struck me as divine intervention.

READ MORE: Wales’ 20mph rollout chaos: Furious motorists blast ‘absolute nightmare’ new speed limit which Penny Mordaunt says is ‘punishing’ drivers as signs are defaced and vehicles do 20 in a 40 zone – and 80,000 sign petition to reverse decision 

But the same fate awaits millions of drivers, who face not just hefty fines but the prospect of disqualification in double-quick time.

Sticking to 20 mph is virtually impossible, as I discovered, even with your foot off the accelerator. It also makes you a more dangerous driver, as you spend most of your time braking hard, eyes glued to the speedo, rather than keeping your full attention on the road ahead and its surroundings.

In my neck of the woods, it’s often difficult to work out where 30 ends and 20 begins. On some roads, the limit chops and changes every few hundred yards.

In his most recent motoring review, the Mail’s resident Mr Toad, Ray Massey, said he always sets the gear-change on his test cars to ‘Sport’. If I’d have done that, I’d have lost my licence in about 10 minutes.

A committee of MPs is proposing that fines and penalty points should kick in at just 21 mph. What planet do these

muppets live on?

Presumably, the same planet as that dismal Welsh dogmatist Drakeford and London’s two-bob chancer of a mayor Genghis Khan.

First Minister Drakeford claims risibly that the ludicrous 20 mph limit in Wales will lead to fewer accidents and save the NHS £92 million annually. The health service can then spend that on hiring hundreds more equality and diversity officers.

Despite 100,000 people signing a petition opposing the lower limit, Lee Waters, the Welsh deputy minister for climate change, claimed it would save lives and improve air quality.

And there, in six words – Welsh deputy minister for climate change – you have the absurd reality of devolution. When people voted to establish a Welsh Assembly, could they ever have imagined that they would one day employ not just a minister for climate change, but a deputy minister, too? No doubt all those new speeding fines will help pay his wages.

Lovely, tidy, smashing.

Lower limits will be launched in Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Wandsworth, Merton, Bromley, Lambeth and Kensington and Chelsea

In London, tinpot tyrant Khan claims his ULEZ expansion is not aimed at raising money, perish the thought. It’s about clean air, cutting exhaust emissions and combatting climate change.

Set aside the fact that cars crawling along at 20 mph generate far more pollution than they do at 30 and above.

Here we have just another self-righteous politician who contemptuously refuses to practise what he preaches. While hard-up Londoners have to fork out £12.50 a day to drive their non-compliant cars, or break the bank to buy a new hybrid or electric vehicle, Genghis swans around town in a £300,000, gas-guzzling Range Rover, provided by Scotland Yard for his ‘security’. I bet that isn’t restricted to 20 mph.

And when it comes to tackling climate change, it’s yet another open-and-shut case of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.

In case you think it’s only Londoners Khan wants to punish, think again. He has far great ambitions. When it comes to Net Zero, the world is his lobster.

READ MORE: See Sadiq, that’s how it’s done! The Mayor of London is accused of ‘not listening’ about Ulez concerns from motorists after Labour-run Cambridge ditches its plans to charge drivers due to the cost-of-living crisis 

Genghis chairs something called C40, a global quango made up of the mayors of 96 cities on six different continents. This unaccountable, self-appointed body, which employs five executives who either worked for London’s mayor or the Greater London Authority, has drawn up a draconian plan to slash emissions by 2030.

The more extreme proposals include abolishing all private vehicles, rationing food and clothing, and restricting the rest of us to one short-haul flight every three years.

Naturally, none of that would apply to Khan, or any of the politicians and grand fromages commanding us to change our lifestyles to save the polar bears.

This week, while Londoners on the ground were coughing up for ULEZ and attempting to stick to 20 mph, Khan and five of his aides flew to New York for a summit on, you guessed, climate change.

Since he became mayor in 2016, Genghis his deputies and staff have racked up more than 430,000 air miles on such vital missions as studying night life in Sydney, visiting a Californian cannabis factory and schmoozing with James Corden at a rooftop bar in Los Angeles.

As James Churchill reported in yesterday’s Mail, that’s enough to fly around the world 17 times and is estimated to have pumped at least 200 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

All this while constantly lecturing the ‘little people’ on the need to fly and drive less. There is apparently no limit to his hypocrisy.

Then again, the same could be said of most high profile eco-warriors. Remember when Emma Thompson flew first class 5,400 miles across the Atlantic to take part in the pink yacht Extinction Rebellion protest in Oxford Circus? And most delegates to the Cop26 climate bean-feast in Glasgow jetted in on private planes. Oh, and Wee Burney, when she was running Scotland and championing Net Zero, getting VIP treatment at the airport, courtesy of Scottish taxpayers.

So Khan flying to New York to lead the fight against greenhouse gases is par for the course. Couldn’t he have Zoomed in to the conference from his office in London, especially as he’s so keen on people working from home?

While in the Big Apple, Khan will join Prince William at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit, another international jolly-up in the name of promoting environmentalism.

Meanwhile, back home William’s dad is facing criticism for forcing four Cabinet ministers to fly to his Scottish residence to discuss Net Zero.

The Mail on Sunday reports that the King decided to hold his monthly Privy Council meeting at Dumfries House rather than Buckingham Palace.

This involved Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Privy Council President Penny Mordaunt, Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho, and this week’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps hopping on a plane. Private or commercial? They’re not saying.

What Shapps was doing there is anyone’s guess. Is the army going over to electric tanks, limited to 20 mph? Then again, when he was transport secretary for five minutes, XR poster boy Shapps did bung local councils £250 million of taxpayers’ money to build cycle lanes and LTNs, creating still more congestion and pollution.

A few hours after the meeting, the King is said to have flown 230 miles to Doncaster racecourse. Sounds about right.

The former Prince of Wales has always been a vocal environmental campaigner. But that has never stopped him taking private planes or driving an Aston Martin.

To be fair, a couple of years ago he had his beloved DB6 converted to run on bio-fuel made from surplus cheese and English wine, so it’s probably ULEZ compliant.

Next time he takes it out for a spin along The Mall, I wonder if he’ll stick to 20 mph.

Parp, Parp!

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