28 June 2020
Harborough, Oadby & Wigston Green Party’s response to the draft strategic transport policy
Thank you for giving us the chance to comment on this document, which sets out the blueprint for Leicester and Leicestershire’s transport policy over the next thirty years.
There are lots of positives within this document, including statements supporting the environment and about the need for us to move to a greener more sustainable future. However, in light of the huge shifts in transport and demand since the Covid tragedy, the document needs a complete overhaul: It needs to put the climate at the heart of this document, and to capitalise on the changes to transport and working patterns accelerated by the lock down.
Unfortunately, much of the document does not support these aims. Indeed, there are few measurable, and binding targets and the draft plan as it stands, consistently demonstrates that the councils’ priorities are to predict and provide for car use, not shape and lead, manage and reduce car use. Implicit and explicit support for road development and expansion, is set out in the document, in particular on pages 15-16, which can be compared to the weak statements such as “ Potential new rail services, including possible re-opening of the Leicester to Burton railway line;” or “Continue to encourage travel by sustainable and active modes, where it is practicable”
Rather than “encouraging” a “possible” move to reducing car use, and “supporting” businesses and developers to become “more green”, It is imperative that councils offer a carrot and stick approach that they are proactive. We need disincentives for car use at the same time as improving alternatives, and leading by example, by reducing or removing commuter car parks for council staff.
We also need to challenge assumptions with this document. For example, Freight ought to be transported by rail as the norm, not by road, as seems to be the consistent assumption.
Funds ear marked for roads represents most of the planned investment in transport, at a time when investment and leadership to move away from roads and onto more sustainable modes of transport such as rail, bus, walking and cycling is required. Councils must state four clear aims:
First committing to a clear overriding policy of reducing car use and dependency through every measure, development and all investment.
Secondly, combining the aims set out in 2, 4, and 5 so that the economy, sustainability and transport work in harmony.
Thirdly, challenging the assumption made in 2.11 that we must align to national policies, which we already know must be rewritten, as they take no account of Paris agreement or the Climate Emergency. It would be catastrophic to lock the region into policies and commitments which are being challenged and rewritten as we speak. Already, they are being challenged in the court, such as the third runway at Heathrow (with Heathrow, government policy was deemed illegal, because it took no account of the air pollution or the climate commitments set out in Paris).
Fourth, change the stated aim in 2.17 that growth inevitably generate additional travel demands, as evidence suggests where traffic demand management strategies are used and councils are proactive, demand changes. For example, we must ensure the focus of the Leicester connected hub and Spoke plan is far less road obsessed, and properly addresses the investment needs of alternatives – road expansion should be a last resort, not easy option. The council could fund pilots into car free cycle routes near schools, and free bus journeys for school journeys.
Since we are in the logistics “golden triangle”, Leicester and Leicestershire councils need to take a leadership role in shifting logistics away from diesel ad petrol towards sustainable freight on railways and for example hydrogen fuel. Moreover, any planning application for any logistical site must include cycle paths from neighbouring towns, in order that staff can travel to work more easily and in a sustainable manner.
We would ask that you rewrite to ensure the overarching aim being to reduce car-use and meeting our climate commitments. Sustainability, respect for the climate and economic vibrancy must align and work together: we must challenge the assumption that growth must be achieved at whatever cost to peoples’ health, well-being, and the environment.
Harborough, Oadby & Wigston Green Party
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