COLUMN by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie 

The Prime Minister made some pragmatic tweaks to rules around boilers, energy efficiency and electric cars last week. His aim is to avoid families feeling forced to make thousands of pounds of changes they cannot afford.

So people will now have more time to find better ways to heat their homes than to use gas or oil. The Prime Minister even increased a grant by 50% to £7500 for those who want to do it now.

If the critics are to be believed, Rishi Sunak has unleashed Armageddon by harmonising when diesel and petrol cars will be banned to the same date as the European Union and most of the rest of the world – 2035.

Yet in rural areas like Stroud, The Valleys and Vale where many homes are old and are off the gas grid, a ban on buying new boilers even if your home will never ever be suitable for a heat pump is a big deal. Now there will be exemptions.

Similarly, the cost of electric cars is around double petrol and diesel, the charging infrastructure is not there and many worry about range.

Time will bring down costs, develop charging points to cope with the numbers and battery technology will improve. We are right to be concerned about the planet and ambitious to make changes.

Many local people are working hard to make changes in their own lives and the UK is a leader in cutting carbon emissions. They are down 50% since 1990.

But there must be a balance. Households are facing significant outlay during a time of cost-of-living pressures and inflation due to the pandemic and war in Ukraine.

The PM said clearly that he is committed to net zero by 2050 and the UK climate targets have not moved. This new approach means however that it will be done fairly and pragmatically and with normal households in mind.

A huge shout out to Saturday’s Dursley Pride, the Meningitis Now walk on Sunday and the magical Giffords Circus team put on an incredible show yet again. Tweedy the clown will be missed when he steps down from Giffords this year.