South East Transport Strategy - Surrey Greens comments
8 January 2020
Transport for the South East has been consulting on its strategy for making transport work better in the region - for people, the economy and the environment. Surrey Greens say they have a way to go before the Strategy delivers what's needed.
Surrey Greens welcome that there's a Strategy and like that it wants to shift from planning for vehicles, to planning for people and places. But we think it needs to go much further to achieve its goal of net zero carbon by 2050 (and needs to get its skates on and do the heavy lifting by 2030).
- The Transport Strategy needs to overtly and as a top priority commit to decarbonise transport in the South East. While we welcome the net-zero carbon target, as transport is the major emitter in the region, we need to front load the targets for the transport sector to avoid tipping into climate chaos. The biggest gains in terms of carbon cutting should be identified as priorities to be fully implemented as soon as possible, and certainly by 2030.
- Overall we welcome the shift from planning for vehicles, to planning for people and places. There should be an urgent assessment carried out of the carbon burden from transport in the region – this would enable the speedy identification of the priorities for action.
- The climate emergency means stopping the most polluting activities, whilst enabling new ways of doing things. Whilst it is recognised in the foreword to the main Strategy that public transport is key to decarbonisation, alongside that must be strategies which promote and enable walking and cycling and not travelling in the first place – much easier, cheaper and more beneficial to local communities. The health and well-being potential is massive, yet not mentioned in the cost benefit analysis which only talks about jobs and money. Health improvements associated with active transport could save millions of pounds in NHS cost savings.
- The vision statement focuses too heavily on journeys – economies have grown, prospered and enabled thriving human communities and environmental security for thousands of years, without necessitating people and goods moving about to the extent that is currently accepted as the norm. Modern technologies such as web and video conferencing alleviate the need for much business travel – as is seen by the reduction seen in business flights. A climate proof transport strategy which reduces overall transport use, will be more successful than one that thinks inside the same old box. Net zero carbon requires a very different way of working or it will just prove to be an empty promise. The second paragraph of the vision statement should be revisited to reflect this (and thus the priorities outlined elsewhere in the Strategy which do recognise that a more fundamental change is needed).
- The definition of the environment is too narrow (natural/built/historic) – it needs to embrace a safe and stable climate - our means of survival. This is consistent with the headlines in the Strategy but not carried through to the document. There needs to be a clear focus on this as the number one outcome of the Strategy, from which the other benefits will flow.
- We do not agree with the priorities set out in the document, which will not achieve net zero carbon by 2050 or even make a good start by 2030 - as is urgently needed. In particular we suggest the following changes, to help meet this target:
- oppose airport expansion in the region, rather than aim to facilitate it;
- oppose further expansion of the highways network, except to enable a shift to public transport use with interchanges between local provision onto the strategic network;
- develop clear targets for carbon reduction:
- 40% reduction in private car use;
- positive incentives provided for a switch of the remaining vehicles to electric (including all taxis);
- at least doubling the number of journeys made by bike or on foot across the county through partnerships with local district/borough councils;
- implementing the installation of cycle tracks alongside all trunk roads, following those started in the 1930s and as found in many in Northern European countries;
- supporting a huge expansion in the bus network based on the use of smaller, electric buses and lowering of fares;
- encouraging substantial investment in the rail network leading to a doubling in its use;
- affordable, reliable, predictable, integrated, provision of public transport which starts early and runs late, supported by real time information;
- a joined- up approach which links planning into transport so that any new developments do not rely on or promote the use of private cars, but embrace alternatives.
- Here is our whole response.
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