Memorandum submitted by West Midlands
Friends of the Earth
West Midlands FOE would like to submit a short
piece of evidence appropriate to this region and at the same time
endorse the submission from Friends of the Earth; England, Wales
and Northern Ireland.
West Midlands FOE has been campaigning on roads
and carbon emissions within this region for a number of years.
We are currently struggling with the huge road
building plans for the region emanating from; not only the DfT
but also from the West Midlands Regional Assembly through the
Regional Funding Allocation, Local Authorities through the Local
Transport Plans and possibly through the TIF process. It is very
difficult to see how these proposals fit within the PSA as referred
to in your invitation for evidence. A huge road building programme
for this and any other region will not send out the correct messages
to the general public that we are serious with respect to our
climate change commitments in relation to transport. Indeed it
is taking us in the completely opposite direction. There is only
so much that technology can do in terms of reducing emissions
from transport and it is to the reasons for why traffic is generated
that we must seek long term solutions. This will come from an
integrated land use and transport planning regime which places
walking and cycling at its heart and catering for the single car
user well at the rear of the hierarchy.
The region is currently grappling, for example,
with expansion of the M6 corridor, pressures for expansion of
the M42 corridor, the expansion of not only Birmingham International
Airport but also Coventry Airport as well as a series of smaller
road building proposals right across the region. This at a time
when we collectively should be making far more efficient use of
our mature road network and investing in the provision of the
alternatives and indeed measures which reduce our need to travel.
The time scales over which these schemes are
due to be in place are variable but many are well into the next
decade and beyond. These schemes of course need long term planning
BUT if we are indeed to meet our global commitments this is setting
us all on the wrong course of action.
We are living with the first pay as you go toll
road, the M6 Toll, here in the West Midlands. Our experience is
that this sort of scheme should not be repeated. We would not
see this form of "demand management" as the most sustainable
or equitable for the UK as whole. The M6 Toll is really about
providing choice to pay for motoring for those who already have
chosen to drive and does not create the correct conditions for
people to choose to use public transport. Indeed in a region where
25% of households do not have access to a car it is to them that
we should be seeking to benefit from our demand management measures.
We also do not see the M6 Toll as a way forward in terms of the
dangers that arise from the avoidance of the Tolls both in terms
of transfer to inappropriate local roads or low usage due to the
levels of toll especially for HGV's. Therefore we would support
a much more comprehensive, variable and sophisticated road charging
regime covering the entire road network of the UK. This could
have far greater social and environmental outputs that the current
M6 Toll regime. This, in harmony, with a greater variation in
road tax and indeed a reintroduced fuel escalator could send the
correct price mechanisms to attract people onto public transport,
walking and cycling.
We look forward to your response and would be
prepared to present to your inquiry. We would finally like to
thank you for this opportunity to contribute to this import topic.