Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by East Sussex Transport 2000 (IT 5)

  East Sussex Transport 2000 is a voluntary organisation campaigning for sustainable transport policies at national, regional and local level.

  We understand that the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee is about to examine the Government's transport white paper, A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone. This is a contribution to this examination.

  Like many others, we think the following:

    —  present traffic levels are unsustainable, for many reasons, from the impact of traffic emissions on the earth's climate to the impact of traffic on children's physical health and social development;

    —  in order to reduce all the many adverse impacts of road traffic, it is essential to reduce road traffic;

    —  the Government should decide what lower levels of traffic should be achieved, that is set national targets (in accordance with the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998).

  We note the view of the Government's advisers, the Standing Conference on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA), that "there is scope to achieve some reduction in national traffic volumes through restraint measures which will at the same time improve economic efficiency" (Transport Investment, Transport Intensity and Economic Growth: Interim Report, December 1997).

  We are therefore very concerned that, according to the transport white paper (paragraph 2.25), the Government's aim is to reduce road traffic growth rather than to reduce road traffic from its present level.

  To aim to reduce road traffic growth is of course to aim to increase traffic. According to Government forecasts, based on policy as it was before the white paper, traffic will increase by between 36 per cent and 57 per cent in the next 20 years; the white paper does not say what increased level of traffic the Government is aiming at.

  Road traffic reduction was supported by the Labour Party before the general election and has been supported by transport ministers since. A clear majority of Members of Parliament is in favour of it. There was overwhelming support for it among the 7,300 respondents to the Government's integrated transport consultation paper. In view of all this, it is extremely disappointing that the Government has finally decided to aim to achieve or at least permit continued traffic growth.

  We urge the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee to call on the Government to abandon its aim to increase traffic and instead fulfil its previous promises to reduce it.

Colin Murray

13 September 1998

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