Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Salisbury Transport 2000

1.  INTRODUCTION

  Salisbury Transport 2000 (ST2000) is a local group affiliated to Transport 2000, the national environmental transport campaign. ST2000 was established in 1998 and campaigns for integrated and sustainable transport and a reduction in car dependency.

  The group has been involved in campaigns against the controversial road proposals (the Wylye Valley Relief Road and the Brunel Link/Harnham Road) which emerged from the Salisbury Transport Study in 2000. The former scheme was rejected for central government funding in 2004, and our comments below focus on the climate change impacts of the Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road proposals and a general failure to consider climate change impacts in local transport policy.

  The Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road scheme was provisionally accepted for government funding of up to £13 million in 2000. Two separate planning applications have subsequently been submitted, but the scheme has always been opposed by the statutory bodies and is currently a low priority on the list of schemes submitted in the advice from the SW region to central government in January 2006.

2.  COMMENTS IN RELATION TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE'S INVESTIGATIONS

  We have specific comments which relate to the following strategic issue identified for review by the Committee: "whether the DfT's carbon reduction target is underpinned by a coherent strategy stretching across the department's entire range of activities".

  The Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road proposals are predicted to increase CO2 emissions in the opening year from 4,847 tonnes per year without the scheme to 5,466 tonnes per year with scheme, an increase of 12.7%. However this is dismissed in the Environmental Statement with the statement that "the mass of emissions produced by the proposed route are an extremely small percentage of the national emissions."[76]

  The adverse CO2 impacts of the scheme have been down-played in earlier reports on the scheme—for example in material submitted with the 2002 planning application (subsequently withdrawn) it is noted that there is "no significant change in CO2 emissions" and the assessment is considered to be neutral[77]. We note too that greenhouse gas emissions related to the road construction activity do not seem to be taken into account.

  Wiltshire's Local Transport Plan acknowledges, in the chapter on "Problems and Opportunities" the contribution of transport to climate change and states that policies to restrain traffic growth in order to achieve reductions in CO2 levels are "vital".[78] However there is nothing in this document which refers to the adverse climate change impacts of the Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road.

  Comments from the statutory bodies on the planning application for the Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road included the observation that there was insufficient reference to alternatives, including "no road" or "do nothing" options. Development of the road scheme proposals continues regardless of these concerns. We are disappointed that this bias is characteristic of Wiltshire County Council's transport "strategy", which has shown a consistent preference for promoting road schemes and a failure to develop public transport, walking and cycling or promote demand management measures.

  The Salisbury roads have been encouraged by the Government Office for the South West (GOSW), as have other major highways schemes in the county, over many years. There appears to have been no attempt by GOSW to direct Wiltshire County Council's transport programme away from its roads bias and towards public transport and demand management. Our local railways are suffering service cuts and lack of investment in regionally desired improvements (such as dualling of the Salisbury Exeter line) yet DfT policy appears to give local authorities, GOSW and regional assembly neither the mechanisms nor the funding to correct this decline.

3.  CONCLUSIONS

  We conclude that we can find no evidence that the DfT's carbon reduction target has been taken into account in respect of the proposed Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road in Salisbury. The attitude that an increase in CO2 emissions is only a drop in the ocean as far as the national picture is concerned is unfortunately all to common. Statements in Wiltshire's provisional Local Transport Plan about the need to ensure a reduction in CO2 levels are not backed up by measures to achieve this. The DfT will only be able to claim that they have "a coherent strategy" when local transport decisions start to contribute to the DfT targets rather than work against them.

February 2006






76   Environmental Statement Harnham Relief Road/Brunel Link, RPS/Mouchel Parkman, March 2005, paras 3.65-66. Back

77   Harnham Relief Road and Brunel Link Stage 3 Scheme Assessment Report, Part 2, AST para 6.7. Back

78   Provisional Wiltshire Local Transport Plan 2006-07 to 2010-11, para 3.9. Back


 
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