Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220 - 239)



  Q220  Mark Pritchard: Under your proposals, you expect the effects of the Low Emissions Zone to be carbon neutral, that is it would improve air quality but not reduce carbon emissions. Why is this, given that it is only achieving half of the objective?

  Dr Austin: The main objective of the Low Emissions Zone was to reduce the most polluting, the HGVs, buses and coaches, so that is particularly particulates and NOx. The prime aim was not to reduce carbon. For example, if someone has an old, poorly-maintained vehicle and they decide to upgrade it to a brand new vehicle, then there will be fuel efficiency savings which will go through to carbon savings but, alternatively, people could put particulate traps on and therefore there will not be the carbon dioxide saving.

  Q221  Mark Pritchard: Your colleague Isabel mentioned sticks. Do you think this is another stick and the Department for Transport ought to be offering more carrots before sticks are applied as far as coaches, buses, vans and HGVs coming into London are concerned? People have to go about their business.

  Dr Austin: Looking at the figures, I think the majority of vehicles will meet the standard; some of them will not. The critical factor is that a thousand people a year are dying as a result of poor air quality in London. We need to do something otherwise there will be problems and therefore to wait, I do not think is really the answer.

  Q222  Mark Pritchard: I understand that point. I think we would all agree that we have to do something, but hopefully we might all agree that it needs to be in co-ordination with government policy, and there needs to be joined-up thinking and linkage between policies in the capital of our country and what the Government is planning strategically for the rest of the nation otherwise we might find ourselves in difficulty in achieving the objectives in the medium and long term.

  Dr Austin: We are discussing those issues with the Government and also, more importantly, discussing it with key stakeholders, such as the Society of Motor Manufacturers, the Confederation of Passenger Transport et cetera, who have an important interest in that to work out what their views are and how we can best address their problems and needs.

  Q223  Mark Pritchard: I presume the Rail Freight Association and so on and so forth?

  Dr Austin: The FTA and the RHA.

  Q224  Mark Pritchard: Coming to Heathrow, some people claim that Heathrow is in breach of EU levels on air quality; it is arguable. I wonder what your thoughts are, Transport for London, vis-a"-vis airport expansion in the South East and what impact that may or may not have on carbon emissions and your strategy on reducing those?

  Ms Dedring: I guess, first of all, as you probably know, because a lot of the standards of what is counted and is not counted are set through Kyoto, when we look at aviation in London, we are only counting on-ground activity basically and take-offs and landings. It does not take into account the flights that Londoners take and the freight that is brought in by air which, if you did include that, would be equivalent to twice the size of London's total transport emissions, so it is vast and dwarfs the transport emissions from London itself. However, that is not an area that we have been looking at. We have primarily looked at the impact of airport expansion on ground transport in terms of getting people to and from the airport, but obviously if one was to consider the truly attributable percentage of that air travel to London, then we would have to really re-think where our focus lay, but at the moment that is not pertinent.

  Q225  Mark Pritchard: Finally, Chairman,—not a suggestion, just a question—do you think that might involve some sort of linkage to the Heathrow Express which currently does not run, am I right, from terminal four because you have to change and get on at one, two or three? Is that something that you might be having discussions with BAA on?

  Dr Austin: Certainly as part of the terminal five expansion there. The Heathrow Express will go to terminal five, as far as I can recall, and that will be the terminal British Airways will be flying out of, and I think they are fairly happy with that. I think the issue with airport expansion again is that it is unlikely Heathrow will meet the targets for NOx and PM10 by 2010, so there are obviously concerns there. The Government, I think, is doing some work on looking at environmental implications on Heathrow and the work will be out at the end of the year. When that work is published, it is a question of having a look through that and seeing what implications that will have for airport expansion.

  Q226  Mark Pritchard: Coming back to terminal four, I fly from Heathrow quite a lot so I should know, but I keep thinking that the Heathrow Express does not run to terminal four, is that right?

  Ms Dedring: You mean terminal five, the new terminal?

  Dr Austin: It runs to terminal four.

  Q227  Mark Pritchard: It does, so it runs to every terminal?

  Dr Austin: Yes.

  Mr Evers: And it will run to terminal five which will be the main BA terminal.

  Mark Pritchard: Thank you.

  Q228  Lynne Featherstone: This is about travel demand. You say you are increasing the budget to £30 million. I have to say, I have always thought that the money that is spent on reducing demand on travel plans is miniscule compared with the major infrastructure projects. I just wondered if you had done any comparators, bang for buck effectively, on what you get your best out of in terms of both carbon emissions reduction and also modal shift for the money you spend on these kinds of measures as opposed to money you spend on some of the large infrastructure projects?

  Ms Dedring: They are not really comparable because they tend to be in different areas for different purposes. A large-scale rail scheme is primarily for radial commuting versus demand management, but roughly per space created on the network, if you want to think about it that way, it is one-fifteenth or one-twentieth of the cost. If you think about raw capacity on the network and you try and equate a seat on the Tube with space for somebody to drive with a seat on the bus, it is roughly a twentieth.

  Q229  Lynne Featherstone: There is this theory, is there not, that there will be a limit to how much public transport you can have and therefore, ultimately, you are going to need to change behaviour, which all this travel planning, travel reduction and reducing the need to travel, will attack whereas provision of more public transport will have a finite point.

  Ms Dedring: The additional provision of transport creates induced demand, as you know, and that historically has all operated on the basis of new transport technologies coming out which can then support that additional demand, but it is not clear what that new technology is. In the 1950s and 1960s it was the car, before that it was rail and before that it was canals. What is the new thing that is going to enable people to move faster over longer distances which would enable the infinite spread of London, for example?

  Q230  Lynne Featherstone: Apart from twitching your nose and hoping you can transport yourself like in Bewitched?

  Ms Dedring: Quite. I think the challenge of the demand management is helping people to understand that we are not asking them to reduce their volume of activity and what they want to do, it is just the way they are doing it and when they are doing it.

  Q231  Lynne Featherstone: Perhaps you would like to describe what the £30 million is going on?

  Ms Dedring: If I just look at the schools and the workplace, there are school travel plans and workplace travel plans, where we are basically targeting organisations rather than individuals because it is much more cost-effective and work and school are the primary trip purposes during the peak. In terms of the workplace, we are quite reactive, we were targeting employers who came to speak to us, usually looking for infrastructure changes on the road network asking, "Can you put in some helpful traffic lights here?" "Well, no, would you like a workplace travel plan instead?" Now we are trying to totally invert that and focus on the largest employers because if you can get the top 300 employers in London, you have got 10% of all employees or the top 10% of employers, you could get roughly 70% of all of London's employees that way. There is a huge bulk of employees employed by the largest employers. That is where we really need to be focusing our activities, but in order to do that you need to have a really high-skilled team of people to go in and talk to them, you cannot send somebody who does not know how to speak to senior business decision makers into that kind of environment. It used to be that we would bring along 200 or 300-page documents saying, "Here is how to incentivise people to cycle to work"; nobody is going to read that and so we are trying to be much more intelligent about the quality of materials and people that we are sending in, and both of those things cost more money. Schools are a similar thing; we are trying to focus on schools that are in areas of highest congestion where the parents will tend to have an incentive to want to not drive because they are experiencing very high levels of congestion in driving their children to school, so starting with the schools that are in the most congested areas where the school run is contributing very significantly to the congestion, we have basically mapped congestion on the network against where schools are located.

  Q232  Lynne Featherstone: Do you have targets for carbon emissions for the money that you put in for funding?

  Ms Dedring: Not at the moment. If I understand the question then, no, not really where we would assign CO2 reductions to all of our policies on a more consistent basis, but we do have a sense of what we would expect travel demand management, as a whole, to deliver from a CO2 standpoint.

  Q233  Lynne Featherstone: Lastly, what are you doing to assist car clubs and do you think the Department for Transport is doing enough to assist them nationwide?

  Ms Dedring: It is quite a difficult area because they are private companies, so TfL is trying to assist them. Simply granting money to an organisation that may be struggling from a commercial standpoint anyway we do not see as being necessarily a sustainable way to contribute to car clubs. Rather helping them in terms of getting parking spaces on the road and getting around some of the local planning problems with getting parking spaces freed up is where we are trying to focus our activities. It is quite a difficult area and it is very fragmented at the moment. There is quite a number of providers and a low level of consumer understanding of what is being offered and the offer is still relatively expensive, so there are a lot of problems on a number of different dimensions.

  Q234  Emily Thornberry: Nowhere in Britain has been more successful in encouraging cycling than London, so what is the secret of your success?

  Dr Austin: I think it is a number of things. Firstly, it is investment. We have quadrupled the investment over the last five years. That is not only by putting hard measures in, cycle lanes, parking et cetera, but also funding soft measures, better information, more cycle training, and linking this to other elements. For example, the travel demand management has certain elements of cycling associated with it. When you are talking to a person, you work out they could and would want to cycle, then you can give them a range of measures to do that, for example if they need training to encourage them to cycle or whatever, that is one thing. Certainly, the issue to do with cycle lanes and I think about half the budget, £12.5 million, is going to develop cycle lanes not only on the road but also through parks and along green areas. This is a big incentive; people feel safer on the cycle lanes, safer travelling through parks and along canals rather than on the roads. I think once you have got that and there is a critical mass, more and more people will cycle. Cycling use has doubled over the last four or five years. We are getting to the stage now where people see cyclists, they are much more visible in London and as you see more cyclists, you start thinking to yourself, "That might be something for me" and that encourages them more.

  Q235  Emily Thornberry: You have had terrible trouble though, have you not, getting cycling integrated with rail travel and some difficulties with stations around London? Do you know about this, and, if you do, could you tell us a little bit about it?

  Dr Austin: There is certainly the issue of providing sufficient parking at rail stations. We are working with the train operating companies to provide not only cycle racks but also cycle lockers, which are a far more secure way of putting cycles away. I think we are putting about £700,000 a year into that. As part of TfL's commitment, they are looking on new infrastructure they are putting in, such as DLR stations, to provide enough parking for 25 cycles so that integrates into TfL's planning process.

  Q236  Emily Thornberry: I was thinking particularly about St Pancras, which is going to be the biggest European rail hub, and yet provision for parking bicycles has just not been considered at all, and it has been TfL that is having to pay for it, is it not?

  Dr Austin: That does not surprise me. We are paying for it throughout the network, but in order to get people to cycle to a station rather than maybe driving or whatever throughout London to improve the integration modes, it is essential to do that.

  Q237  Colin Challen: You have a very prominent advertising campaign promoting bus use and cycling and so on. How much are you spending on that, are you aware?

  Ms Dedring: I do not know the answer off the cuff. I can get that for you.

  Dr Austin: No.

  Q238  Colin Challen: Do you measure its effectiveness, and have people been asking how effective it has been, particularly the DfT itself?

  Dr Austin: I am not sure about the DfT. We will measure the effectiveness of campaigns by doing market research, product recall et cetera to identify whether people have seen the campaigns and whether they have changed the way they think about things. I do not have any results to hand at the moment, but I am sure we could provide those.

  Q239  Colin Challen: How long has it been running now?

  Dr Austin: The bus campaign has been running for a number of years. The large cycling campaign has just been launched, I think, a few weeks ago.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. We have covered quite a wide range of issues. We are very grateful to you for coming in and if we could have the extra bits of information we have discussed, that would be very helpful.

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