Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Group Against Motorway Expansion (GAME)

  Although in 2004, the Department for Transport adopted a Public Service Agreement (PSA) committing itself "to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5% below 1990 levels in line with [the] Kyoto commitment and move towards a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010", in fact carbon emissions from transport are expected to grow by about 10% from 2000 levels by 2010. Thus transport's share of total emissions is likely to increase substantially, as emissions from other sectors are due to fall.

  Despite all this, the government are still continuing with the plans announced in 2004 that they would be expanding the M6 between Cannock (junction 11a) and Knutsford (Junction 19)—either by widening or building a private tolled expressway.

  Knowing that this expansion of the motorway system will only add to the problem of this carbon dioxide driven global warming, environmental activists in Stafford formed the "Group Against Motorway Expansion" (GAME). We decided to oppose all and any form of expansion to the road network of Great Britain, but specifically the M6 between Cannock and Knutsford. Our attitude is not that of a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) nor are we anti-progress.

  We regard expansion of the M6 as regressive—not progressive. Progress looks to the future, M6 expansion doesn't. One of the most progressive things we can do is to plan now for climate change.

  For some reason, expanding the M6 is seen as a solution to the problem of road congestion. We believe that it is doubtful that expansion of this relatively short section of the M6 will help the situation at all.

  Motorway expansion is not the solution that it's cracked up to be. Instead, GAME suggests a two pronged approach: Short term measures and longer-term measures. In the longer term society must stop pumping fumes into the atmosphere. Do we really want to tarmac the countryside and make everywhere else into parking spaces? Progress demands that the amount of traffic has to be reduced. We need to take all steps to reduce the need for transportation of both humans and goods - and when transport is necessary, public transport systems should be provided.

  In the shorter term, in order to tide us over until these long-term measures start taking effect, there are numerous motorway traffic management techniques that are already in use or in various stages of development in this country and around the world. We should introduce them here as soon as possible. In particular we support the Government's intention to introduce road user charging, and feel this could have a major impact on traffic levels on the M6 as an alternative to expanding the motorway which would help rather than hinder the DfT's commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

  Another example of a relatively short-term measure is the diversion of a lot of the motorway traffic onto the railway (by government monetary incentives), a measure that would have an almost immediate impact.

  GAME cannot be exact about the best way forward, but road building is certainly NOT the answer. It would only exacerbate the problem. It is imperative to stop building roads now. GAME admits that the solution will not be an easy process—but the longer that the inevitable decision to stop building more and more roads is put off, then the more difficult and painful it will be when eventually global environmental crises force us to cut down on transportation.

  If we intend to leave a planet worth living on to the children of our grandchildren, then we have to do something now.

February 2006





 
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