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

Memorandum by Ipswich and East Suffolk Transport 2000 (IT 6)


  The changes indicated in the White Paper are welcomed as a step very much in the right direction.


  In the DETR summary there is, on page 18, a statement which demonstrates a misunderstanding of the problems facing the country. The second paragraph states "We shall also need to reduce the rate of road traffic growth. When its environmental damage is worst we want to see an absolute reduction in road traffic".

  3. The absurdity of this is obvious when it is known, to take only one example, asthma rates have increased alarmingly in line with increase in road traffic, since traffic pollution exacerbates asthma, especially amongst the young and elderly. In rural Mid-Suffolk a survey has demonstrated the situation is quite as serious as anywhere else. The University of East Anglia can confirm a similar impact along the holiday area of the North Norfolk coast in summer.

  4. It is urgent to reduce road traffic for health, global warming and safety reasons to avoid delays.

  5. In this context target setting is an effective stimulus to action. When measuring road accident casualty numbers targets need to be related to casualties per mile walked and cycled if people, especially children, are to be encouraged to walk and cycle.

  6. Of recent years Suffolk has demonstrated the benefits gained by implementing a universal village 30 mph speed limit. These include less noise and greater safety. Bearing in mind that an adjacent rural county has one of the highest child accident rates in England (hence one of the highest in Europe) the importance of the latter cannot be over emphasised. There have been remarkably few complaints about slower speeds. If it were decided to reduce village and most housing estate speed limits to 20 mph, rural roads to 40 mph and non-trunk A roads to 50 mph there would be an immense gain environmentally with reduced traffic queuing.

  7. With increasing traffic on motorways and trunk routes, housing areas close to them not originally seriously effected by high noise and air borne pollution have reached that level. There are well established noise levels to measure when health is likely to be affected. Carbon Dioxide reduction as well as very much needed population health improvements would follow if all such areas of road were limited to 50 mph as soon as noise health risk levels were measured. The importance of dealing with this problem cannot be over emphasised. It is undoubtedly a major cause of stress, ill-health and even death. As the effected areas tend also to experience exceptionally high traffic flows there is likely to be less queuing once a 50 mph limit is in place.


  There is considerable disappointment at lack of charges for out of town superstores. British food Supermarket companies yield the highest profits in Europe for their occupation. This is being achieved at the cost of considerable loss of general trade in town centres. It may be government is hopeful implementation of Superstore home delivery services will result in traffic reduction but unfortunately most Superstores appear to expect a visit to their store to place orders which will increase traffic.


  We greatly welcome this initiative. As Suffolk boasts the largest container port in the Country and two other active ports, the sooner improvements are made to the principle rail freight routes. the sooner we may hope to reduce road traffic pollution. Increased implementation of piggy back systems and establishment of an adequate rail freight depot network nationally will speed up the process.

  10. Even Suffolk is experiencing increased aircraft movements. This is likely to be considerably increased if a closed USAAF base is re-opened for civilian use, as seems likely. In these circumstances, unless aviation fuel is soon taxed, pollution reduction targets will be at risk.


  Whilst there has been limited recent movement towards reductions in concessions for company cars it is still considered these are over-generous if reduction targets are to be achieved. It has also been mentioned that some excessively high mileage allowances could indicate a need for controls.


  It is pleasing to note the emphasis on public transport integration. There is an urgent need to introduce sufficient controls to ensure:

    (1)  Bus and rail services match their timetables to ensure minimal route delays.

    (2)  Rail fare systems are simplified. (There are currently 16 rates for train journeys to the capital from our County town) and made user friendly (It is inevitably the infrequent traveller and those of limited means who suffer most under the present system).

    (3)  Competition does not result in loss of quality.


  There does seem to be public appreciation of the need for the changes outlined accompanied by personal reluctance to change modes of travel and adjust to improved systems. It is our view that full implementation of the White Paper proposals is unlikely to create change at the required rate to improve the environment at a sustainable pace, i.e., To use a consultation period concept, there is plenty of carrot but not enough stick.

D H Dufty


15 September 1998

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