I have never owned a car and am rather proud of the fact. I’ve never felt the need to. I live less than 10 minutes’ walk from The Cumberland News’s offices and less than half an hour from Carlisle city centre.

I don’t have children to transport to school, Cubs, Brownies or football practice. In any case I doubt whether I could afford a car – or children for that matter.

If my job requires driving somewhere for work I use a company vehicle.

I take trains to visit far-flung friends and ferries to visit even farther-flung family.

Margaret Thatcher once said that anyone over 30 who travels by bus is a failure, so I’m happy to use them regularly and have been a cheerful failure for the last 15 years. If it’s bad enough for her it’s good enough for me.

What I’m now hoping is that I can go on failing in this way for another 23 years, which – according to new rules – will be my first year of retirement. By 2040, we are told, petrol and diesel-fueled cars and vans will become vintage vehicles.

The Government has announced that new ones will be banned from that year onwards. The fumes, pollution and carbon emissions will end and the noisy revving of engines in traffic jams will be replaced by the gentle hum of electric ones.

I don’t criticise anyone living in an isolated rural area, badly served by public transport, who drives a car. For some it is a necessity in getting to work, taking children to school and accessing all the services that are handy for town and city dwellers.

Stephen Blease But finding cleaner, green alternatives is vital if we’re to do anything about climate change in time.

And it’s not just the carbon but the air pollution. Britain’s dirty air is thought to be responsible for around 40,000 early deaths every year.

We also need to factor in the deaths and serious injuries on the roads and the noise, water and soil pollution.

And we should bear in mind that there’s a huge inefficiency bound up in petrol cars.

They’re designed to carry four or five people and their luggage, yet look at any rush-hour traffic jam and nine times out of 10 there’s only one person in them.

After the mortgage or the rent the car is usually the biggest household expense, yet it’s normally only in use for two hours a day.

Their energy consumption is also highly inefficient. The average car wastes most of the fuel you put into it. Electric vehicles use about 90 per cent of their energy.

There are other moves against petrol and diesel engines taking place. France is doing something similar to Britain. By 2019 Volvo will only be making electric or hybrid cars.

And the trend for pedestrianising parts of towns and city centres is increasing – with Carlisle a longstanding and excellent example.

I’ve lived there for nine years so I can’t really compare, but I’m told that most people approve. And I don’t suppose there were as many continental markets when English Street was clogged by cars.

This announcement of the forthcoming ban came on Wednesday. But before we congratulate the Government for its born-again green-mindedness, we should remember its other recent announcement.

Only days earlier it said it was abandoning plans to electrify major rail lines in northern England, the Midlands and Wales. So trains will still be running on diesel.

The ban is supposed to improve air quality, yet the Government is determined to build its third runway at Heathrow.

It reminds me rather of Marks & Spencer. It makes much of its ethical approach – with its Fairtrade tea and coffee, its sustainably sourced fish, its environmentally friendly textile dyes, its waste reduction and its charging for plastic bags before that became compulsory.

All very praiseworthy. But Marks used to make much of the fact that most products were made in Britain, and that boast was quietly dropped almost 20 years ago.

Manufacturers in this country lost their jobs as the work was transferred to places where they could pay far lower wages. My new boxer shorts were made in Sri Lanka.

A ban on fossil-fuel vehicles, while rail electrification is ditched and third runways go ahead, shows the same lack of consistency.

The Government, like Marks & Spencer, deserves only two cheers and not the full three.