SCOTTISH Tory MSP Maurice Golden has criticised the Prime Minister’s watering down of climate pledges.

Writing for the Times, the North East list MSP said the announcements made last week by Downing Street were “regressive”.

Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday that England would delay the ban on new petrol and diesel cars by five years, moving the target from 2030 to 2035.

Sunak was criticised by environmental activists, and some in his own party, following the Downing Street announcement, which also saw him weaken the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035 – so households that will struggle the most to switch to heat pumps will not have to make the change – and scrap the requirement for energy efficiency upgrades to homes.

Scottish Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (below) said the Scottish Government would be “urgently” assessing its own climate pledges as a result of the announcement.

The National:

Writing in the newspaper, Golden said: “I understand fully why it was done from a political perspective, but it’s a regressive move that isn’t only damaging environmentally but economically and socially too.

“It drags net zero into the territory of culture wars.

“The way the changes were framed and delivered will polarise communities and create a binary environment where you’re either for climate change initiatives or against them.

“I thought we had moved past that years ago, not least when the UK showed considerable ambition in becoming the world’s first big economy to set its net zero target in law.

“Seeing the pathway to that ambition being watered down is deeply regrettable.”

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The shift, Golden claimed, “didn’t only annoy the green lobby”, pointing to businesses already in the process of making changes to meet the targets.

“Policy changes like this erode trust in the Government, a trust that was already vulnerable thanks to the brief period in office of Sunak’s predecessor. And this announcement will hurt UK plc too,” he said.

Downing Street and the Scottish Tories have been contacted for comment.