Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the BioRegional Development Group

  BioRegional have been developing solutions for sustainability since 1994. The BioRegional approach is to meet more of our everyday needs more efficiently from sustainable local resources so reducing our transport and creating diverse vibrant local economies. We have hosted a visit from the Environmental Audit Committee to one of our projects, the BedZED eco-village in south London.

  Concerning reducing transport emissions BioRegional has demonstrated a number of ways in which we can reduce transport whilst still meeting our needs. Case study 1 and 2 illustrate local supply of goods and case study 3 potential for reducing car use in urban residential developments.

  1.  Local charcoal supply to national retailers such as B&Q through what we call a "network production" model. One supplier (in this case our own BioRegional Charcoal Company—BRCC) set up a contract with the national retailer B&Q. BRCC organises bag design, printing and bar codes and all contact with B&Q and co-ordinates a network of 30 local suppliers of charcoal. Orders are placed with BRCC who will then deal with the small local suppliers who can supply from an average 35 mile distance to the store. Large retailers would never deal with small local suppliers and so this is one way in which they can. A University study showed that transport emissions are reduced by 85% compared to imported charcoal using this method. Charcoal has been supplied in this way for 10 years. This model could also be used for food, which would account for most transport emissions in supply of goods, BioRegional produced a study five years ago showing how it could be done.

  2.  Local paper loop. BioRegional have promoted a local recycle and buy-back loop for office paper in London and the south east. Offices recycle their paper to the local paper mill in Kent (the only high grade paper recycling mill in the UK) and then buy back the paper produced, called EVOLVE. The House of Commons joined the BioRegional local paper loop in 2001. The paper is cost competitive and guaranteed in printers. A study by Surrey University (attached) [not printed] showed that transport emissions in collection of raw material and delivery of the finished paper product are reduced from 6.2GJ for imported paper to 0.76GJ for local recycled paper. An 88% reduction in transport emissions.

  3.  Reduced car use. The first car club in London is located at the BedZED eco-village in south London, which the committee have visited. Surveys at BedZED have shown that emissions from transport are reduced by 50%-65% thanks to the green transport plan written for BedZED. The plan includes local availability of public transport, provision for cycling, an on-site car club and annual fees for parking spaces of £200 per year.

  At BioRegional we specialise in working with business and government to introduce working models of solutions and are not experts in drafting policies for reduced transport emissions.

  However, we make the following points.

  1.  Maintaining some manufacturing in the UK is important in reducing global carbon emissions. The scale of reductions (85-88%) is seen in case study 1 and 2. But UK government policies add cost burdens through energy taxes and are causing manufacturing enterprises, particularly the paper industry which is energy intensive, financial problems. A recent example is the StRegis Sudbrook Mill. See The government should ensure that its policies do not financially disadvantage UK manufacturing business when compared to overseas competitors who do not have to pay these taxes. Perhaps it could re-imburse the taxes raised in some way. The National Insurance incentives were not sufficient.

  2.  Obviously increased energy taxes on carbon based fuels globally or at least throughout the EU would assist in encouraging consumer and business take up of reduced transport solutions. But we strongly suggest that carbon taxes applied only in the UK have a detrimental effect on UK business, disadvantaging it to EU or other overseas competitors.

  3.  Car clubs could perhaps be incentivised through the planning system. Car clubs could be required to be established in all new (and possibly existing), urban, large, high density developments (100 units plus can support two car club cars) along with limiting car parking space (to one or less per household), helping to ensure there are good public transport links and possibly earmarking some funding to cover the initial set up costs. Car Plus would be able to advise further on this.

February 2006

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