Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Transport 2000 SW Network

  The South West Region has recently had sustainability assessment of its Regional Spatial Strategy. Land Use Consultants (LUC), together with Collingwood Environmental Planning and Levett-Therivel have been retained by the South West Regional Assembly to independently assess the emerging RSS in order to meet the statutory requirements of the SEA Directive and to comply with ODPM guidance.

  On the issue of climate change, the consultants have indicated that the way that the region responds to meet government carbon dioxide reduction targets remains as a difficult challenge. The Strategic Sustainability Assessment Report identifies the issue of airport expansion and the delivery of economic growth by improving connectivity as particularly important in terms of resulting in likely negative sustainability impacts for the region. Certainly Transport 2000 would agree, especially because that connectivity is to be achieved by road and not rail, and carbon emissions are bound to increase.

  If transport-related carbon emissions are to be reduced, the South West region needs much greater investment in rail, rather than road, to achieve connectivity. Certainly the policies in the RSS are in place for rail, but lack of government funds for either the expansion of rail freight or passenger rail have meant that many aspirations for rail have fallen flat. The Greater Western Franchise final proposals in fact suggest a reduction in passenger rail services. Meanwhile road building is seen by many as the only easily deliverable mode of transport.

  New development, it is widely agreed, needs to be planned around sustainable transport. But again, without investment in all types of public transport—not just the bus—we are hard pressed as a region to achieve the reductions in carbon emissions that we might aspire to because we will cannot achieve modal shift, or enable our planners to design innovative layouts for new housing and employment areas orientated around public transport. There seems to be little communication between the DfT and ODPM when it comes to the public transport infrastructure to support new development and developer funding is insufficient or difficult to direct to supporting public transport infrastructure; the easy default is again new roads.

  The problem of revenue support to run public transport services is already leading to service cuts, for example in the Greater Bristol area and needs intervention. A Passenger Transport Executive or similar to manage the public transport network of the Greater Bristol city region is becoming increasingly essential.

February 2006

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