Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Campaign to Protect Rural England Peak District & South Yorkshire Branch (CPRE PDSY)


  CPRE exists to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country. Traffic can have a profound impact on the countryside and people's enjoyment of it. It is visually intrusive, noisy and intimidates pedestrians and cyclists. It creates greenhouse gases which then impact indirectly though climate change on the countryside.


    —  protect and enhance the countryside by reducing the impact of surface and air traffic to

    —  enable people to access the countryside of South Yorkshire and the Peak District and ensure that rural communities (including those without access to a car) are able to access services, without compromising their unique environmental and cultural characteristics

    —  reduce the need to travel throughout South Yorkshire and the Peak District.


  The Committee asked for comments under the following headings:

  1.  What progress is the DfT making against key carbon reduction targets or forecasts included in the Ten Year Plan (2000), the Climate Change Strategy (2000), the 2004 Transport White Paper, the 2004 PSA, Powering Future Vehicles (2004), and other documents?

2.  Is the DfT's carbon reduction target underpinned by a coherent strategy stretching across the department's entire range of activities; does the current balance of expenditure between the DfT's objectives (as revealed in its 2005 departmental report, Annex A) adequately reflect the environmental challenges it faces?

  3.  What realistically the DfT could achieve by 2010 and 2020 in terms of reducing transport-related carbon emissions, and the role that demand management should play in doing so; what specific steps the department should now take to reduce road transport carbon emissions and congestion over the next decade?


  We have responded to the Inquiry with our local and regional experience of the Highways Agency's contribution to the DfT targets.

  Road transport contributes 20% of all CO2 emissions or 40 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) per year. The Highways Agency's traffic on the strategic highway network contributes about a third of all traffic. We have been particularly concerned about trunk road improvements in our area due to the traffic, and consequently carbon emission, increases that they would bring.

  In July 2004, the DfT was given, with the DTI and DEFRA, a shared Public Service Agreement target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5% below 1990 levels and move towards a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions below 1990 levels by 2010.

  We have seen no evidence of any contribution towards this target or of a coherent strategy from either the Agency or the DfT to address this commitment. CPRE PDSY has been campaigning since November 2004[7] for an answer as to how the Highways Agency, as part of the DfT, would contribute towards reducing CO2 emissions. As a committee member, we received a copy of The Changing Climate: Impact for the DfT. This document identifies the climate changes that can be expected in the next 20-80yrs but concerns itself only with the DfT's adaptation to those changes by responding to existing, and preparing for future, weather. We were told that the Agency is procuring 15% of its energy from renewable sources and saving 68Kt of carbon emissions through new lighting equipment.

  The Agency's Business Plan 2005-06 makes no reference to the need to reduce CO2 emissions but focuses on relieving congestion through major improvements to the network, managing traffic and technological advancements. Its trunk road programme was estimated by 2010 to generate 0.1Mt of carbon or five times the emissions expected to be saved by increased rail passenger use, or the same as all the savings brought about by local transport improvements.[8]

  The Highways Agency's Influencing Travel Behaviour programme aims to reduce congestion by changing travel behaviour. The amount that would be spent on this is not made explicit in the Business Plan for 2005-06 but in 2004 it employed four people and had a budget of £50,000 to cover the whole of England.[9] By contrast the Agency plans to spend £589 million on major improvements to the highway network.

  Two examples in our Branch area demonstrate how the Agency continues to progress road schemes that increase traffic and CO2 emissions. A bypass of the trunk road A57/A628—the Mottram Tintwistle bypass—, has been planned since the late 1980s and progressed to draft line orders despite fundamental changes to transport policy. The scheme would result in substantial increased traffic flows in the year of opening. On some roads in the area traffic flows would increase by up to 124%. The bypass would not contribute to reducing travel by private car and is predicted to increase CO2 emissions by an extra 4,669 tonnes/yr in 2010.[10]

  In March 2005, the Secretary of State for the DfT announced on-line widening of sections of the M1 and M62. According to the Appraisal Summary Tables, traffic levels on these motorways would rise from 111,302 AADT (Annual Average Daily Traffic) in 2004, to 148,999 AADT by 2014. These traffic increases would be accompanied by a net increase in CO2 emissions of 136,938 tonnes/yr of CO2.

  Although these outputs appear small (less than 0.02% and 0.6% respectively of national CO2 emissions) these two trunk road schemes are but two schemes in a list of nearly 80 schemes. They would undermine the achievement of Government policies and targets for reduction of carbon emissions, and investment in public transport use and measures to change attitudes to behaviour which are essential if the UK is to meet its CO2 targets.

February 2006

7   Highways Agency Northern Environmental Committee meeting November 2004. Back

8   Transport 2010: The Background Analysis; fig 16, page 32; published April 2001. Back

9   Pers.comm. Ian Smith Highways Agency. Back

10   A57/A628 Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass & A628/A616 Route Restraint Measures Volume 2a, Table 8-13. Back

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