Memorandum by the Road Traffic Reduction
Bill Campaign (IT 73)
A NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORT
1. SCOPE OF
1.1 Any strategy has two partsits aims
and the policies that seek to achieve those aims. Any comments,
therefore, can address either or both of these issues. This applies
to the White Paper as much as to any other strategy or overview
document. There are a whole raft of policies and ideas in the
White Paper, and there are the aims of those policies. It is
on this latter point only that this submission concentrates.
What are the aims? Are they the right aims? If not, how should
they be changed. Those are the matters commented on in this response.
2. SUMMARY AND
2.1 The aim of the White Paper, as regards the
crucial issue of the amount of traffic on our roads, is to achieve
(or certainly allow) more traffic on our roads; road traffic increase.
This is stated explicitly in paragraph 1.35 of the White Paper
which states that "we need to reduce the rate of road traffic
growth." It is repeated in paragraph 2.25: "The New
Deal for transport therefore sets the framework to reduce road
2.2 Let us be quite clear about this: "reducing
road traffic growth" is, in fact, road traffic increase.
Put more, bluntly, therefore, paragraph 2.25 could well read "the
New Deal for Transport therefore sets the framework for road traffic
increase." It is, of course, true that later on the White
Paper states that the new Commission for Integrated Transport
(CIT) will be asked to advise the Government on "setting
national road traffic and public transport targets" (White
Paper page 92 paragraph 4.4). But there are two serious flaws
in this approach:
(i) the Commission is set up as part of the
White Paper in order to assist the aims and policies in the White
Paper: unless, therefore, it steps outside its brief, the targets
it will set will be for reducing the level of road traffic growth
and not for reducing the absolute level of traffic;
(ii) indeed, it is, we suggest, significant
that the targets mentioned are for "national road traffic"
and not for road traffic reduction.
2.3 In this submission we argue that this
is totally unsatisfactory for the following reasons:
(i) it is essential road current traffic
levels are reduced significantly: we argue by 10 per cent on 1990
levels by 2010 (i.e., approximately 16 per cent on current levels);
(ii) quite apart from that, as road traffic
is set to grow by more than a third in the next 20 years (as stated
in paragraph 1.10 of the White Paper), reducing this growth to
30 per cent could be considered a policy successan almost
(iii) the aim of reducing growth completely
reneges on Government promises to reduce road traffic. These
are promises made:
(b) by individual Ministers; and
(c) as recently as April this year in
parliament by Transport Minister Glenda Jackson, during the progress
of the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act;
(d) as recently as July this year by
the Deputy Prime Minister who told MPs that the Government had
the "objective of reducing car use." (Hansard Written
Answer, 20 July 1998, column 378).
(iv) it ignores the views of the overwhelming
majority of the House of Commons, this Committee and its own consultation.
2.4 This submission thus argues the following
points in detail in the following order:
(i) firstly how the White Paper the reneges
on Government pledges;
(ii) secondly how it ignores views of the
House, the consultation and the members of this Committee;
(iii) thirdly why road traffic reduction
is crucial; and
(iv) fourthly why road traffic reduction
targets must be set.
2.5 We do not argue what those targets should
be (our own view is 10 per cent on 1990 levels by 2010) because
this submission is about the White Paper only. If the Select Committee
would like a further detailed submission in support of 10 per
cent traffic reduction targets we will happily supply this. Such
arguments were submitted by this Campaign to the Government during
their consultation on the White Paper.
2.6 We therefore recommend and urge the Select
(i) express its concern that the Government
has not kept its road traffic reduction pledges;
(ii) demand that the Government does so forthwith;
(iii) express its support for road traffic
reduction in accordance with the wishes of the House of Commons
and of the majority of the members of the Committee itself;
(iv) demand that the Government sets, or
asks the Commission for Integrated Transport to set, road traffic
reduction targets, not targets for reducing the rate of growth.
3. THE WHITE
3.1 Labour's Election Promises
Labour fought the General Election on a pledge
to reduce road traffic: the New Deal does not deliver on that
promise. This promise was made in three separate Labour Election
Labour's Election Internet Site,
accessible by millions of people, which explained that Labour's
aims are to "reduce and then reverse traffic growth"
Labour's Policy Handbook, sent to
all election candidates and other Party activists for guidance
on the policies on which Labour was fighting the Election. In
paragraph 2.10.3 under the title "Labour's Plans" candidates
are told that "our strategic aims are to . . . reduce and
then reverse traffic growth" (our emphasis).
So the Election promise was explicit to reduce
and then reverse traffic growth. That is road traffic reduction.
The New Deal in the White Paper omits the second part of that
promise: it promises only to reduce traffic growth: it fails to
deliver on the "and then reverse" promise.
3.2 Individual Promises Made by the three Transport
All three Ministers who were involved in the
production of the White Paper have individually promised support
for road traffic reduction:
On 23 January 1997, just three months
before the General Election, Glenda Jackson MP, in response to
requests from constituents, signed House of Commons Early Day
Motion No. 289 calling for 10 per cent national traffic reduction
targets based on 1990 levels to be set by the Government. On 8
February, in Hampstead High Street, watched by local voters, she
signed the Road Traffic Reduction Bill national petition calling
for the same targets.
On 17 January 1997 former Secretary
of State for Transport Gavin Strang MP wrote to Kay Allen, Scottish
Traffic Reduction Campaign Organiser saying "I strongly support
the objective of this Bill. There is an urgent need to reduce
road traffic" (our emphasis). The "objective"
of the Bill "strongly supported" by Mr Strang was that
the Secretary of State should draw up a National Road Traffic
Reduction Plan to achieve 10 per cent road traffic reduction based
on 1990 levels.
And Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott
MP, launching the Integrated Transport consultation document said
"we have to face up to the challenge of using the car less"
(DETR Press Release 21 August 1997). The aim of the New Dealto
allow road traffic increasedoes not "face up to"
Mr Prescott's "challenge" of using the car less.
Mr Prescott repeated this as a Government
objective as recently as 20 July this year. Replying to
a PQ from Mr Tom McNulty he again referred to "our objective
of reducing car use" Hansard 20 July 1998 column 378.
Again, the aim of the White Paper does not deliver on this objective.
Mr Prescott also promised, just a
month after taking office, that "I will have failed if in
five years time there are not many more people using public transport
and far fewer journeys by car. Its a tall order, but I urge you
to hold me to it" (Guardian 6 June 1997). We urge
this Select Committee to do just that.
3.3 Promises made in the House this year by Transport
Minister Glenda Jackson MP during the passage of the Road Traffic
Reduction (National Targets) Act
The issue of reduced traffic growth (i.e., road
traffic increase) versus road traffic reduction was raised many
times during the passage of the recent Road Traffic Reduction
(National Targets) Act. Some examples are quoted below:
During the debate on the Money Resolution
of the Bill, while replying to objections raised by Tory MP Eric
Forth and others about the possible costs of the Bill (now Act)
Ms Jackson berated them by pointing out that "there was not
one word from them on the costs that are already being incurred
by the failure of their Administration for 18 long years to do
anything about reducing road traffic" (our emphasis)
(9 March 1998, Hansard column 287).
During the three debates that made
up the Committee Stage of the Bill, Ms Jackson repeatedly stated
the Government's support for traffic reduction. "We wish
to see a reduction in road traffic" (11 March 1998,
Committee Hansard column 21). "The Government are committed
to reducing road traffic" (18 March 1998, Committee
Hansard column 54). "[The reports produced under the Bill]
will push forward the reduction of the number of vehicles on
our roads with all the concomitant benefits" (19 March
1998, Committee Hansard column 97).
Ms Jackson repeated her promises
that the Government would reduce traffic at later stages, criticising
Tories who claims such a policy was unrealistic during the Report
Stage saying "I do not share the philosophy of despair .
. . that it will be impossible to reduce an over-dependence on
the private car. Public transport, allied with other policies
will reduce traffic on roads" (27 March 1998, Hansard
column 858). And at the Third Reading she stressed again how crucial
traffic reduction is"The country cannot continue as
it is"there must be a reduction in road traffic."
(24 April 1998, Hansard column 1119) (our emphasis in all
Lest there be any remaining doubt
about Government promises made during the passage of the Act,
let us now clear that up by quoting two further parts of the Committee
debate. Firstly in response to a direct question by the Tory transport
spokesman Christopher Chope the Minister gave an unequivocal reply
(18 March 1998, Committee Hansard column 55). Mr Chope
"She (i.e., the Minister) is also unwilling
to tell us whether an absolute reduction in road traffic is Government
policy . . . Will the Minister answer the question: does she agree
with absolute reductions in the United Kingdom's road traffic,
or not? . . .
To which Glenda Jackson replied:
"I thought that I had made the position
clear . . . I shall have to be infinitely more precise in my choice
of words . . . my argumentwhich, I am sure will be endorsed
by all Committee membersis that there should be a reduction
in road traffic" (our emphasis).
Thus, this was no chance remark or slip of the
tongue or loose comment by the Minister. It was a reply to an
unambiguous question, in which the Minister was being "precise"
in her "choice of words".
And secondly, when Mr Chope tabled
amendment No. 24, which focused on what he rightly called "the
vital issue of the difference between road traffic reduction and
reduction in the rate of increase in road traffic" (11 March
1998, Committee Hansard column 36) Ms Jackson again made
her position absolutely clear. Mr Chope's amendment said leave
out "road traffic reduction" and insert "reducing
the rate of increase of road traffic" (18 March 1998, Committee
Hansard column 49). To which Ms Jackson replied that "I
strongly urge all members of the Committee to vote against"
this amendment (18 March 1998, Committee Hansard column
So the Government's promises in March 1998 were
absolutely categoric: they supported road traffic reduction, and
actually voted against a decrease in the rate of growth.
The New Deal fails to deliver on that.
4. THE WHITE
4.1 The explicit wish of the House of Commons
In this Session of Parliament (i.e., since the
General Election) 365 MPs have signed EDM No. 18 in support of
10 per cent traffic reduction targets. Another 20 have written
letters of support. That is a clear majority of MPs. Indeed, over
the last two years (i.e., in the run-up to the General Election
and since) 435 current MPs have backed 10 per cent traffic reduction
targets: a majority of landslide proportionsgreater even
that the Labour Government's majority at the General Election.
If all MPs turned up for a vote in the House of Commons, this
would result in a massive 217 vote victory for the Bill!
Yet the White Paper's New Deal ignores this.
4.2 The Government's own consultation
Before Christmas the Government issued its consultation
paper on its proposed White Paper. The responses to this were
published in July 1998, as a separate document, entitled "The
Government's Consultation on Developing an Integrated Transport
Policy: a Report". It reported that the consultation exercise
had received 7,300 replies (Consultation Report page 7) of which
"almost everyone wanted to see a reduction in road traffic"
(ibid paragraph 40 page 12). In effect, therefore, the
Government consultedand as regards the major problem of
traffic on our roads, received the same reply from "almost
everyone"and then ignored it by publishing a White
Paper whose aim is to increase road traffic!
4.3 The views of the majority of this Committee
In this Session, 12 of the 17 Members of this
Committee have signed EDMs calling for a 10 per cent reduction
in road traffic to be achieved via a national plan drawn up by
the Secretary of State. In addition every one of that 12 who was
an MP before the General Election also signed at least one (and
in some cases, four) previous EDMs with the same target. In the
light of this we again call upon the Committee to support 10 per
cent road traffic reduction.
5. WHY ROAD
5.1 Definition of Road Traffic Reduction
5.1.1 In this Section we explain the need for
road traffic reduction. Although many of the reasons will be generally
accepted, it is important to spell them out as they will assist
us to demonstrate why, road traffic reduction, rather than road
traffic increase (even if described as reducing the rate of growth)
needs to be the aim of an integrated transport strategy.
5.1.2 We begin by defining what we mean by road
traffic reduction. We do not mean public transport; we do not
mean cycling or walking; and we do not mean vehicles for people
with disabilities. When we use this term in this document we
mean (with the exception of vehicles for people with disabilities)
private care and freight transport on roads.
5.1.3 We believe that this distinction is non-contentious,
but we have spelt it out for the sake of clarity. Below we list
many of the reasons why transport policy must aim to achieve road
traffic reduction, and in doing so we emphasise that the problems
we describe below relate to current traffic levels, not
5.2 Reason No. 1: Sustainability
5.2.1 The greatest challenge facing us all as
regards future policy is to achieve sustainability. And, as regards
traffic on our roads we welcome Labours recognition in their policy
document Consensus for Change that "the current
situation is unsustainable." (our emphasis).
5.2.2 It follows, therefore, that if the current
situation is unsustainable, then any policy that permits things
to get worse, or even allows the current situation to continue,
is, by definition, unsustainable. Thus, in order to achieve sustainability,
one aim of policy must be to improve the current situation. In
this case, that means reducing road traffic: the White Paper,
however, aims for (or at least allows) road traffic increase.
5.3 Reason No. 2: CO2 Reductions
5.3.1 The greatest issue facing this country
and, indeed the world, is co2 emissions, which cause
dangerous climate change. The Government has set a target of 20
per cent CO2 reductions (based on 1990 levels) by 2010.
The Prime Minister, at the New York Session and in the House of
Commons (Hansard 24 June column 688) and the Deputy Prime
Minister (Environment Select Committee 29 October) have both stated
clearly that this is an unconditional target.
5.3.2 The Government has correctly argued that
an integrated transport policy is required in order of its CO2
target to be achieved. We absolute agree with that view: but we
would add to that the extra point that such a policy must also
include traffic reduction targets because CO2 targets
cannot realistically be met without road traffic reduction. This
is crucial: the point is not simply that "the transport sector"
must deliver CO2 reductions, but that road traffic
reduction itself is needed to achieve the reductions required
from that sector.
5.3.3 For instance a report for the Electricity
Association by Dr Joanne Wade and Imperial College, shows in detail
that, taking into account all negative-cost (i.e., where the economic
benefits over the lifetime of the measure outweigh the investment
costs) technological measures for CO2 reduction in
all sectors will result in CO2 reductions by 2010
of less than half of the Government's 20 per cent target. The
Report indicates that whereas considerable CO2 savings
can be achieved in the other sectors, the transport sector is
the area where considerable extra initiatives are most needed
and concludes that policies to change demand for road travel are
required in any realistic strategy to meet the 20 per cent targets.
5.3.4 There are welcome indications that the
Government accepts this point. Giving evidence to the Environment
Select Committee on 29 October 1997 the Deputy Prime Minister
was asked about policies to achieve the 20 per cent target, and
specifically about the role of transport targets. The Deputy Prime
Minister asserted that targets for the increase in the use of
public transport, or the use of rail freight were examples of
policies in the transport sector to help achieve the 20 per
cent CO2 reduction.
5.3.5 From this it must follow that the
Government accepts that road traffic reduction is required to
reach its CO2 targets. The aim of a police to increase
the use of public transport, for example, could be to provide
people who currently have no means of transport with a greater
means of getting about. This could be achieved simply by increasing
the use of pubic transport, without decreasing road traffic. But
if the purpose of increasing the use of public transport is to
reduce CO2 emissions, then it must follow that
the aim of this policy is to get people to switch from their cars
to public transport: that is road traffic reduction. Similarly
with getting freight onto rail. If the purpose of this is to reduce
CO2 emissions, then it must follow that the aim
of this policy is to reduce freight on roads: that is road traffic
5.3.6 In other words, the Government has
accepted that road traffic reduction is necessary in order for
CO2 targets to be achieved. We agree. But this
is not reflected in the White Paper.
5.4 Reason No. 3: Air Quality Targets
5.4.1 The previous Government, in its Air Quality
Strategy, accepted that air quality targets for at least three
of the pollutants could not be achieved without road traffic reduction.
As regards nitrogen dioxide the National Air Quality Strategy
said that "further measures [i.e., in addition to "green
cars" and technological improvements] will be necessary to
make up the shortfall, which is currently estimated to be 5-10
per cent." With particulates a similar situation prevails"there
will be a 5-10 per cent shortfall". And similarly with ozone,
the secondary, and most dispersed, pollutant.
5.4.2 As regards these shortfalls the National
Air Quality Strategy argued that "the Government accepts
that a further contribution should be sought from national and
local measures on vehicle maintenance and traffic management"
(our emphasis), and then defined traffic management as "promoting
alternative forms of transport . . . and reducing incentives to
drive." In other words the air quality standards cannot be
met without road traffic reduction.
5.4.3 Many people, including the current Government,
believed the previous Government's National Air Quality Strategy
was too lax. Labour's early action to look at ways the Strategy
could be improved and to bring forward the planned review of the
Strategy was therefore particularly welcome (DETR Press Release
17 July 1997). However, it follows that if the current Government
wants to improve on the Air Quality Strategy, and that even to
achieve the standards in the original strategy, road traffic reduction
was required, then the current Government must accept that road
traffic reduction is required to in order to meet the higher air
quality standards it believes are necessary.
5.5 Reason No. 4: Keeping Faith
5.5.1 We believe it is important as regards
people's faith in politicians and the political system that commitments
made by politicians when seeking election are kept. We have detailed
the evidence above that road traffic reduction was a Government
Election Pledge, and that that pledge has been repeated on many
occasions since the Election.
5.5.2 Let us be clear: we are not claiming that
slavish adherence to out of date policies is essential. There
may be occasions where circumstances change and policies should
be altered as a result; but in this case the only change is perhaps
that the circumstances that prompted the commitments in the first
place have got worse. Thus, there can be no excuse for the Government
not including traffic reduction as one of the aims of the integrated
5.6 Reason No. 5: Child Health
5.6.1 Children make up over a fifth of the population;
they are the future of our society. If sustainability (looking
after the future) means anything, it means looking after the health
of today's future adultschildren.
5.6.2 We believe that children's health is being
threatened by current traffic volumes. One of the leading experts
on child health and development, Dr Ian Roberts, the Director
of the Child Health Monitoring Unit at the Institute of Child
Health at Great Ormond Street Hospital recently wrote in a letter
to all Members of Parliament:
"Research evidence shows that traffic
volume is by far the most important environmental risk factor
for child pedestrian injury. Pedestrian injury risk increases
steeply with increasing traffic volume. Evidence from the USA
and New Zealand shows that when traffic volumes fall, such as
it did at the time of the 1974 energy crisis, there are substantial
reductions in child pedestrian death rates.
The present Government has signalled a strong
resolve to tackle inequalities in health. The pedestrian death
rate for children in social class V is five times that of children
in social class I. This is because children from families without
cars cross more roads and are exposed to greater injury risk.
Reducing road traffic must be an integral part of any strategy
to reduce social class inequalities in child health.
Death rates for child pedestrians and cyclists
have fallen over the past decade, but research at the Institute
of Child Health has shown that this is because children walk
and cycle much less than they used to. Between 1985 and 1992,
the average distance walked in a year by a child aged 0-14 fell
by 20 per cent, and the average distance cycled fell by 26 per
cent. Reduced walking and cycling is a major contributor to declining
levels of physical activity in children, which in turn is associated
with increasing levels of childhood obesity. The curtailment of
children's independent mobility that has resulted from traffic
danger may also have adverse effects on children's mental and
emotional development. As a result of the tremendous growth in
road traffic, the urban environment has become an increasingly
hostile environment for children.
5.6.3 Dr Roberts has supplied us with the statistical
and research data on which he bases these points. And we would
stress that these points relate to current traffic volume:
no amount of "greener" cars or technology can alter
5.7 Reason No. 6: Community Breakdown
5.7.1 The recent BMA publication "Road
Transport and Health" (BMA September 1997) has once again
highlighted how traffic volume adversely affects the lives of
all people living in busy streets. They quoted a survey which
examined the effects of traffic volume on "liveability"noise,
stress, pollution, levels of social interaction, territorial extent,
environmental awareness and safety. The results were dramatic:
"heavy street [traffic] had led to a process of environmental
selection and adaptation in the street's residential make-up which
had changed significantly . . . as a result of the hostile traffic
environment. Residents kept very much to themselves and had withdrawn
from the street environment . . . there was less sense of community
. . . elderly people . . . became "locked in" (page
5.7.2 The BMA Report also referred to studies
in Oslo and Edinburgh which showed that "the environmental
impacts of traffic . . . (were that) . . . both the elderly and
families with young children stress that road traffic results
in insecurity." The BMA Report concluded (on page 44) that:
"In general the severance effects of motor
traffic reduced access to health promoting facilities for those
on foot or travelling by bicycle, including shops, health facilities,
parks and friends. The old and the young are likely to be the
least able to cope with such danger and either curtail activities
themselves or, in the case of children, are restricted by their
5.7.3 There are other similar studies and problems:
small towns and villages wrecked by heavy lorries. Busy roads
"deter pedestrians from crossing them so that communities
may become divided in two."(The Environmental Quality of
City Streets. D Appleyard and M Lintell. American Institute of
Planners Journal. 1972) Busy street have less social interaction
and less social support networks, and this can lead to increased
psychiatric disorder, physical morbidity and mortality from all
causes. (Social Origins of Depression, Brown and Harris, 1978;
Psychological Assets, Nuckolls, Cassell and Kaplan, 1972; Social
Networks and Mortality, Berkman and Syme, 1979).
5.7.4 We are talking about the lives of hundreds
of thousands, if not millions of our fellow citizens. And again
we emphasise that these are problems of traffic volume
not pollution, and we ask what can be done? Push traffic onto
other roads with one of two possible effectseither making
it someone else's problem (if the other roads are residential
streets) or increasing congestion on main roads? There is, we
suggest, only one answerroad traffic reduction.
5.8 Reason No. 7: "Rat-running" and
5.8.1 Again an as yet unquantified problem,
but, we suggest a large one. Millions of people's quiet streets
are being wrecked by rat running and outsider parking. The recent
television programme First Sight (BBC 2 South East Region, 23
October 1997) showed what has almost become "the battle of
Chiswick" with commuters and residents literally fighting
it out for space. The programme showed commuters actually timing
their arrival to coincide with mothers taking their children to
school, so they can steal their parking space; it showed residents
"retaliating" by having a stock of full dustbins (not
empty bins, because people are more reluctant to move full bins
because of the dirt and smell), old fireplaces and the like, to
put in their space when they go out. A similar story was recently
printed in the Guardian magazine "Space" (31 October
1997), this time reporting on problems in Clapham, Fulham, Putney
5.8.2 This is, we suggest, madness. We can either
ignore it; or we can push it elsewhere to somebody else's streetor
we can ensure that the integrated transport policy includes road
traffic reduction measures. That is the choice we face. The White
Paper does make the choicefor road traffic increase.
5.9 Reason No. 8: Health
5.9.1 Up to 15 million people could be suffering
health problems caused by traffic fumes, according to researchers
at Lancaster University. (Dr John Whitelegg, Department of Geography).
Up to 24,000 people die prematurely every year as a result of
air pollution according to the Committee on the Medical Effects
of Air Pollution (COMEAP). As Melinda Letts, the Chief Executive
of the national Asthma Campaign wrote to all MPs on 14 July 1997:
"1 in 25 adults and 1 in 10 children suffer
from asthma They can avoid cigarette smoke by going out of rooms;
they can avoid cats, and do a avoid cats; but they cannot, and
should not, be expected to stay prisoners in their own homes in
order to avoid exhaust pollution."
5.9.2 Again we emphasise that these are the
problems of current traffic levels, not of projected increases
5.10 Reason No. 9: Congestion
5.10.1 Congestion on our roads costs the economy
£19 billion per year, according to the CBI (Missing Links,
CBI 1995),, and although this exact figure has been questioned
by some, it is accepted by all to be at least an indicative figure
which shows the vast losses caused by congestion. Lost days at
work and further costs of traffic accidents add £6.3 billion
more to the nation's bill (Road Transport: An Environmental
Issue, Transport 2000).
5.10.2 The British Road Federation suggest that
congestion reduction targets are needed to deal with thisand,
if this is considered useful we do not disagree. But a major method
of improving congestion is reducing the amount of traffic on our
roads: and that is road traffic reduction.
5.11 Reason No. 10: Social Equity: People without
5.11.1 About 33 per cent of all households in
this country have no access to a car. This has two effects, one
immediate and one long-term:
(i) the immediate effect is that those without
cars have become increasingly immobilised as public transport
has declined. It is often elderly people and poorer people, who
face increased fares and lack of services and are left with no
way of getting about. We concede that this problem can be solved,
or at least eased, simply by providing more public transport:
but if we opt for that solution without decreasing car use, then
emissions of CO2 will increase. Thus, unless we reduce
road traffic, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place: we
either abandon the elderly and the poor who have no access to
cars: or we increase CO2 emissions. Road traffic reduction
is the solution.
(ii) the long term effect is that as many
of those on low (or no) incomes become better off, they will want
to drive cars. Unless there are policies both to reduce (by persuasion
and alternatives not compulsion) this future increased
demand for cars, and to reduce the use of cars to be purchased
in the future by these people, then the future scenario is a nightmare
5.11.2 We must act now, therefore, to reduce
potential future demand. Once again this means road traffic reduction
5.12 Reason No. 11: Because, as regards CO2
reduction policies road traffic reduction is the most socially
5.12.1 The transport sector will be required
to play its role in achieving the Government's CO2
targetsbut as with all policies, the "other effects"
of CO2 reduction measures must be taken into account.
5.12.2 A study by Dr Joanne Wade in 1996 ("Policy
Instruments to Reduce Passenger Transport CO2:
An Integrated Analysis") looked at three CO2 policy
options in the transport sectorfiscal measures, technological
measures and urban traffic restraint based on the Amsterdam policies
of cutting traffic by 25 per centand them measures these
options in terms of CO2 savings and social equity.
The policies were shown to be fairly equal in delivering CO2
reductions, but only urban traffic restraint scored positively
with regard to social equity.
5.12.3 The Government issued a consultation
document before the White Paper was produced. It stated clearly
that one policy aim is to take full account of all sectors of
society, including the disadvantaged and those with impaired mobility
(paragraph 6). This is also repeated in paragraph 10, which lists
"reducing social exclusion" as one of the aims of an
integrated transport policy. In order to achieve this, road
traffic reduction is the best CO2 reduction policy
in the transport sector.
5.13 Reason No. 12: Protection of the Natural
5.13.1 Many Sites of Special Scientific Interest,
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks are threatened
by current national road schemes. The dropping of a number of
road schemes by the current Government has reduced the immediate
pressure on some areas, however if traffic grows as planned for
in the White Paper pressure for these roads will inevitably grow
again. Some may be revived, perhaps as local authority schemes.
Demands for bypasses to relieve villages from "traffic hell"
are widespread and perfectly understandable. the British Road
Federation is calling for 600 new bypasses (Britain's Bypass
Progress 1995; see also the Independent 21 July 1997
to relieve current problems of congestion: the impact of
such a policy on the natural environment would be catastrophic.
5.13.2 We recognise the terrible dilemma the
Government faces when faced with a choice between incurring the
wrath of environmentalists and wildlife lovers by building a bypass
in these situations; or appearing to leave large numbers of local
people in "traffic hell" by not building a bypass. We
believe however that reducing traffic does offer a way out of
many of these extremely difficult choices, as it would alleviate
traffic problems in many towns, reducing pressure for bypasses
and avoiding the difficult decisions that the Government has already
faced at places like Salisbury and the previous Government faced
in places like Newbury.
5.14 Reason No. 13: Noise Pollution
5.14.1 Sixty-three per cent of people are exposed
to night-time noise levels above WHO "asleep" criteria.
During the day 52 per cent of people suffer levels exceeding the
WHO recommended levels to prevent significant community annoyance.
Traffic is the most frequently reported cause of external noise
in homes (The Noise Climate Around Our Homes, BRE, December
5.14.2 Once again road traffic reduction is
one part of the answer. It is possible to make roads and vehicles
quieterbut the cost is astronomic, particularly in urban
areas (where traffic reduction is especially needed for the other
reasons explained in this Section) and the fact that work on making
roads and cars quieter would solve only one problem makes this
an uneconomic policy alternative to road traffic reduction.
6. WHY TRAFFIC
6.1 Having set out the reasons we believe traffic
reduction, rather than traffic growth as envisaged by the policies
in the White Paper, is important we now explain why we believe
that the setting of targets is also crucial. There are, we submit,
13 reasons why traffic reduction targets are:
(i) important in themselves;
(ii) an integral part of any integrated transport
(iii) important in achieving other policy
commitments, e.g., CO2 reductions; air quality, health,
6.2 Reason No 1: Because an integrated transport
policy must not only be integratedit must be a policy.
6.2.1 We argued above that an integrated transport
policy must have aims, otherwise it is quite literally, aimless.
We argued, too, that it could not be considered integrated if
it did not address the issue of traffic on our roads. And we concluded
that the only sensible aim was to reduce road traffic. Therefore,
there must be targets set, otherwise the public, local authorities
and businesses will have no knowledge of what Government aims
are. This is, totally inconsistent with the Government's policy
of increasing public awareness as stated in paragraph 10 of the
consultation document "Developing an Integrated Transport
PolicyAn Invitation to Contribute".
6.3 Reason No 2: Because, if the policy aim is
for traffic reduction there will be traffic reduction "amounts"
6.3.1 There are two reasons why any policy which
is designed to result in road traffic reduction should include
(i) because if thee are no targets,
the policy aim will, in effect, be "promote public transport,
cycling and walking, etc., and hope these policies will result
some road traffic reduction" with the desired or estimated
amount unstated. With no target the aim of policy will be
unspecified. Such an ad hoc approach to the results of
policy is, we submit, neither integrated, nor a proper way to
determine policy, nor sensible.
(ii) In fact it is highly unlikely that the
Government will proceed in such a way. We believe that the Government
will assess likely effects of its policies of promoting
public transport, cycling and walking, etc. The degree of road
traffic reduction that the Government thinks will result will
be estimated anyway, so there will be targets behind the scenes
and must be unacceptable. We believe that making these targets
public will make the policy more effective as it will involve
the public and achieve what is described as a "crucial"
aim of the integrated transport policy"promoting great
awareness of the issues" (paragraph 10 of "Developing
an Integrated Transport PolicyAn initiation to Contribute").
It is therefore important to state publicly
that these "amounts" are the intended or estimated targets.
6.4 Reason No. 3: Because there will be in effect,
be national traffic reduction targets anyway, by virtue off the
Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 ("the 1997 Act").
6.4.1 The 1997 Road Traffic Reduction Act requires
all local highway authorities to set local targets appropriate
to their area. Indeed, this is highlighted by the White Paper
itself. At paragraph 1.29 it is stated clearly that "the
New Deal for transport means new local transport plans . . . local
targets e.g., for . . . road traffic reduction." Thus, in
a year or two when all these targets have been drawn up, the sum
total will in fact constitute a de facto national target
for road traffic reduction, and the steps taken to implement the
measures contained in the local reports will, de facto,
be the sum total of the attempts to achieve that target.
6.4.2 That is the current situation: but it
has fundamental weaknesses which are not only weaknesses
per se, but also are inconsistent with an integrated transport
policy. Those weaknesses are explained below.
6.4.3 Firstly, the measures suggested in the
local plans and therefore adopted will be confined to those measures
that it is within the power of a local authority to take.
Any additional measures, outside the powers of local authorities,
will, however desirable, be excluded from consideration.
This is not an integrated transport policy.
6.4.4 Secondly, there is the possibility of
traffic displacement from local roads actually on to national
roads. We give two examples to illustrate this point:
(a) The South Circular road round south London
passes through the London Boroughs of Richmond, Wandsworth, Lambeth,
Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich. All those boroughs will soon
have local traffic reduction plans and targets under the 1997
Act: but those plans and targets will not deal with traffic on
the South Circular because it is a "national road".
While we would not expect local authorities to deliberately draw
up a local traffic reduction plan that "dumped" traffic
onto the South Circular, these authorities may be faced with residents
urging them to stop "rat-running". The current situation
cannot ensure that a local authority will arrive at the right
balance of policies between those roads for which it has responsibility
and those roads for which it has not. The existing situation,
whereby local roads are covered, but national roads are not, cannot
ensure the correct balance of policies. It is, in fact, the very
opposite of an integrated transport strategy.
(b) exactly this situation has arisen in
practice between the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich,
regarding the notorious Trafalgar Road in Greenwich. Faced with
unrelenting pressure from residents about air pollution (including
a High Court case) Greenwich has imposed a lorry ban on Trafalgar
Road (a local road)with the result that traffic has been
driven onto the nearby A2, a "national" road in Lewisham.
Lewisham has now complained that pollution for its residents has
worsened as a result.
6.4.5 Although such rows will seldom reach the
public, the current situation can only be a force towards such
an unsatisfactory situation. Indeed, the Chair of Lewisham's Regional
Development and Regeneration Committee, Councillor John Paschoud
put the point very succinctly writing in the local News Shopper
on 27 August 1997:
"Lewisham Council will continue to oppose
such a `not in my back yard' solution that just passes the problem
on to someone else. Lewisham Council will not be implementing
its own lorry ban unless it is part of a traffic strategy for
south east London (or Greater London) as a whole."
This is exactly the point: all highway authorities
and all roads need to be involved for a policy to be properly
integrated. This means extending the Road Traffic Reduction Act
1997 to all roads and all highways authorities (i.e., including
the Secretary of State) and thus drawing up national targets.
6.5 Reason No. 4: Because there will be no regional
or national input into the de facto national targets that will
arise pursuant to the 1997 Act.
6.5.1 Local authorities will advance plans under
the 1997 Act which are in their local interest. But there will
be no input of the national interest or regional interest into
the local plans and the resulting de facto national targets.
True, in some areas local authorities may form a consortium in
drawing up their local plans, and thus a wider interest may be
represented, but a situation where there is no mechanism for the
national interest to be included, and where a regional or sub-regional
interest may be included is not an integrated transport policy.
6.6 Reason No. 5: Because for one part of the
UK there will in fact be national targets.
6.6.1 The 1997 Act does not extend to Northern
Ireland: but the previous government agreed, as a matter of policy,
to apply the Act to Northern Ireland. (Official Report, Standing
Committee C, column 38, 19 February 1997). The current Government
has agreed to this also in letters to FOE Northern Ireland (from
W J McCoubrey, 29 August 1997 and David Small 2 September 1997).
6.6.2 Thus, for Northern Ireland there will
be national traffic reduction targets. Similar targets should
be set for the other three parts of the UK.
6.7 Reason No. 6: Because traffic reduction targets
are necessary in order for CO2 targets of 20 per
cent by 2010 to be reached.
6.7.1 The Government has, correctly, argued
that an integrated transport policy is required in order for its
CO2 target to be achieved. Such a policy must also
include traffic reduction targets. We showed above both how the
Government's CO2 target cannot be met without road
traffic reduction and that the Government accepts this point.
This is crucial: the point is not simply that "the transport
sector" must deliver CO2 reductions, but that
road traffic reduction itself is needed to achieve the reductions
required from this sector.
6.7.2 We believe that this means that road
traffic reduction targets are essential. If, as is the case,
the Government accepts that traffic reduction is needed to achieve
CO2 reductions, in order to draw up a long term policy
based on all sectors there must be an assessment of the share
of the required CO2 reduction that is expected from
road traffic reduction, and the amount of road traffic reduction
that will be needed to achieve these CO2 reductions.
These assessments are in effect targets.
6.7.3 We believe an approach on the above lines
is inevitable, as we do not believe that the Government could
proceed to achieve its most important policy commitment to CO2
reduction on an ad hoc basis. Without carefully assessing
the CO2 reductions required and the traffic reduction
necessary to achieve this cut, the approach would effectively
be one of "doing it and hoping to achieve the necessary CO2
reductions". This would be neither integrated, nor indeed
a policy. So traffic reduction targets either public
or unofficial are inevitable if traffic is part of CO2
6.8 Reason No 7: Because traffic reduction targets
are required to achieve air quality targets.
6.8.1 The argument here is similar to that used
above regarding CO2. If, as shown in section 5.4 above,
road traffic reduction is needed in order that air quality standards
are met, then in order to achieve the required air quality standards,
policies will have to be set which result in the traffic reduction
necessary, and unless those policies are simply based on a "do
it and see what happens" basis, there must and will be an
assessment of the traffic reduction effects of those policies.
6.8.2 There must, therefore, be targets either
behind the scenes or in public. Once again we submit that
only the latter is a tenable policy.
6.9 Reason No 8: Because the Government has set
targets for almost everything else.
6.9.1 The Government has set targets, or has
stated its intention to set targets in a large number of areas.
In addition, the Deputy Prime Minister suggested that targets
may be set to increase public transport use and freight on rail
when he appeared before the Environment Select Committee on 29
October 1997. Targets have also been promised for reducing road
casualties (DETR Press Release, 15 October 1997). We believe it
is inconsistent, and the opposite of an integrated transport policy
to set targets for other major areas of transport and not for
road traffic levels which are at the root of so many other problems.
6.9.2 To set targets for the effects
of excess traffic (air pollution, noise, congestion, CO2
emissions etc.) is to deal with the symptoms without dealing with
a major cause. To use a medical analogy, it is rather like having
a target to reduce the number of boils on the skin, without having
a target to purify the blood that is causing the boils.
6.10 Reason No 9: Because the amount of road traffic
reduction required (i.e. the target) will affect the extent of
any policies adopted.
6.10.1 Government Ministers have already been
urging people to use public transport, leave their cars at home
where possible etc. This is, in effect, a policy of encouragementbut
how much does it want to influence people's actions? This
is extremely important, as it will affect the extent of the policy
adopted. If the aim is only to persuade people to take the occasional
journey by bus then one or two speeches by Ministers might achieve
this. However, if the intention is to achieve a larger shift than
this, it will take more than just one or two speeches to achieve
the desired end; it might take speech after speech and constant
reminders. If the aim is to promote a larger still shift to public
transport, it might take speeches and a large advertising campaign
stressing the dangers and/or undesirability of pollution, noise,
rat-running etc. and the advantages of public transport, walking
and cycling to persuade people to use their cars less.
6.10.2 The point we are making here is simply
that the amount (i.e. target) of traffic reduction that the
Government decides is required will influence the extent of the
policies that are adopted.
6.11 Reason No 10: Because the amount of road
traffic reduction required (i.e. the target) will affect the nature
of any policies adopted.
6.11.1 The amount (i.e. target) of traffic reduction
desired will not just influence the extent of the policies, it
will influence the nature of those policies. Let us continue
the scenario commenced above. It may be that the Government concludes
that no amount of encouragement will achieve the traffic reduction
required. Thus other policies are neededperhaps more bus
lanes, other public transport initiatives, policies to encourage
freight onto rail, motorway tolling or road pricing or whatever.
6.11.2 Therefore the amount (i.e. target)
of traffic reduction that we decide is required will influence
the nature of the policies that we adopt.
6.12 Reason No 11: Because the use of targets
is an effective tool in assessing the cost effectiveness of policies
when deciding whether or not to continue them.
6.12.1 Targets will also enable assessment of
the cost effectiveness of particular policies and enable informed
decisions on which policies should be extended and which should
be reduced or dropped altogether. For example, with the CO2
targets the Government has already set, even with the best advice,
the Government is unlikely to be able to introduce policies in
the next year or so which achieve their 20 per cent reduction
without amendment or modification at some point before 2010. There
will be constant analysis of the policies and their effectiveness,
so that in, say 2002 or 2004 they can be amended where necessary
to ensure that policy aims are met. New technology may also lead
to changes in policy, especially if it makes more effective policies
6.12.2 In other words every individual policy
will be assessed in order to determine how effectively it will
contribute towards the overall policy aimi.e. towards a
target. The criteria for every individual policy will not just
be confined to a future review: it will also influence the adoption
of the policy in the first place, for when adopting policies the
Government will as a matter of course take into account the assessed
effect (i.e. target) against estimated cost.
6.12.4 In other words the issue is not whether
each individual policy will have a traffic reduction target in
order for its effectiveness to be assessed, but whether that target
is made public. And if each policy has a target, there will be,
in effect, an overall target which we believe should be made public.
6.13 Reason No 12: Because if it will send a signal
to the whole country.
6.13.1 A stated target will in itself send a
signal to the whole country, which will set the national tone
and thinking on this issue, and thence actually help to achieve
6.13.2 The target will, for instance, have a
direct bearing on local authority bids under the TPP system and
pursuant to the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997. We submit that
a stated 10 per cent reduction overall national target (to be
achieved by a mixture of local and national actionsee the
Bill and the Act) will produce different TPP bids from local authorities
than a stated target of, say 1 per cent reduction. Local authorities
are hard-pressed: they have to allocate resources (including staff
resources) on what in their opinion is both necessary and achievable.
Thus a 1 per cent reduction target will signal that more is achievable
as regards successful bids than a 10 per cent reduction target,
and so will influence how the local authorities allocates staff
resources in preparing the TPP bids. This, in turn, will assist
the Government in achieving the target set.
6.13.3 The situation will be the same in industry.
Businesses are entitled to know what national policy will be,
so they can make the necessary adjustments. Given time businesses
can make the necessary adjustmentsbut they do need to know
what is expected. That is not to say, we stress, that targets
and policies should simply be arbitrarily imposed on business.
The Secretary of State should consult with the business community.
But, having done that the target (or targets) need to be stated
to give industry the maximum time to make necessary adjustments.
This will assist industry, and also assist the Government in meeting
the targets, as those "adjustments" will clearly differ
according to what any targets are.
6.13.4 Or take individuals: we believe that
traffic reduction is supported by the vast majority of people.
As we reported in Section 4.2, it was recommended by "almost
everyone" who responded to the Government's consultation.
The public is fed-up with the scourge of current traffic levels.
But we are also realistic and honest: we are not claiming that
this desire to see less traffic directly translates into support
for every individual traffic reduction policy. We accept it does
not. Some policies may be unpopular with some peopleat
least initially. But if those policies are genuinely "sold"
as being carried out in order to achieve x per cent traffic reduction
and so make your lives, your street, your air better, then those
policies will be and become more acceptable. The very setting
of the target, and the better life it entails, will in itself,
increase public acceptance of the policies. The White Paper recognises
this, saying (in paragraph 5.52) "We cannot expect people,
business and communities to make changes in their own use of transport
if they do not understand what difference it makes."
6.13.5 The Minister of State for the Environment,
Michael Meacher MP, has also recognised the importance of signalling
clearly to the public the effects of policies. He has suggested
a high profile group of indicators which could be broadcast in
much the way that unemployment figures are currently (DETR Press
Release, 18 September 1997). One of the targets the Minister suggests
is that of traffic volume. In the press release he suggests that
such indicators be used to "set targets and monitor and report
progress towards them" and also suggests that reporting road
traffic volumes "would direct attention towards people's
personal responsibilities and on the kind of actions we would
like them to take." We welcome this approach, and agree that
clear targets and regular reporting on progress towards them would
enhance the effectiveness of the policies aimed at reducing road
6.14 Reason No 13: Because national targets will
set a "level playing field" for local authorities and
6.14.1 Many, if not most, local authorities
are keenly aware of the need to reduce traffic but, when drawing
up their TPP bids, or in setting planning policies and the like,
they are also concerned that if they "do too much" their
area may suffer because another area is not pursuing such stringent
policies. "If we reduce parking provision too much in this
town our businesses will suffer because the next town has less
strict policies" is the type of worry we are hearing. National
targets, perhaps with regional variations if considered appropriate,
would certainly send a "level playing field" signal
and thus be a force for persuading local authorities to adopt
the policies they might like to, without worry about "the
next town" benefiting. We would argue that this is the very
essence of an integrated transport policy.
6.14.2 The same would apply to business. A large
store, for instance, might be quite prepared to consider building
another outlet with less car parking spaces and more public transportbut
Jones and Co. are seeking to build a store with 2,000 parking
spaces and this could affect us. Once again a national target
or regional targets would help establish a level playing field,
and make companies more ready to accept traffic reduction policies.
7. EFFECTS OF,
7.1 As stated above we do not deal with this
here. It is our view that targets of 10 per cent on 1990 levels
are necessary, practicable and desirable, and can be achieved
without increases in the price of petrol if so desired. And we
believe that there is an overwhelming body of evidence that measures
adopted to achieve such targets would also help industry, benefit
the economy and reduce social exclusion. We can submit detailed
evidence on all these points if the Select Committee wishes.