Thursday, 20 March 2014

What to do about car emissions: the West Country

Exeter is not the biggest city in the West Country - but it has its traffic and pollution issues:
Futures Forum: What to do about car emissions: Exeter

So does Plymouth: 
Whilst "car traffic is the dominant source of emissions accounting for 68% of emissions, followed by vans at 14% and HGV’s at 11%," 
Plymouth City Council - Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report - Plymouth’s Carbon Emissions
Plymouth City's policies to deal with this have not been universally welcomed:
Taxi drivers face having to spend thousands to comply with new emissions rules | Plymouth Herald

A 2011 report from the Ministry of Transport "Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon: Making Sustainable Local Transport Happen" appears rather exaggerated in the promises made. When it comes to local transport choices and implications, "Government will seek to ensure that people have the choices that will shift behaviour and deliver change"... 

But what are the 'local solutions'?

The problem for the West Country is how to square the circles of geographic distance, tourist traffic, daily commuting journeys and rural poverty.

The Government Office for the South West (GOSW) closed in 2011 - but offered some interesting longer-term thinking for the region:
Low Carbon South West (archived) - Our South West

A 2010 study from the University of Exeter contained rather optimistic projections for lower emissions in Devon:
"The projections for greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector show that overall there is a 24% reduction in transport emissions from 2007-2022 ... in spite of a projected growth in traffic. Emissions from car and passenger carrying vehicles (PCV) will reduce by just over 30% each, heavy goods vehicles (OGV1 and OGV2) by about 20% each, and train by 14%."
www.devonomics.info/sites/default/files/documents/Low Carbon Economy final report v9.pdf

There are considerable pressures on transport infrastructure for Cornwall - where the distances are long and public transport non-existent in many areas, with people and business having to rely on cars and trucks:

"The A38, one of the longest ‘A’ roads in England, running from Cornwall to Nottinghamshire, is the subject of five pinch point projects. One, the £5.5 million Splatford to Wobbly Wheel Improvement, will provide an additional lane for traffic merging with the A38 from the A380, increasing capacity by 25%."

Politicians will be remembering the boycotts against the fuel price increases in 2000 - and will not want a repeat of that:
BBC News - Fuel price protests 2000: farmers and motorists remember
Petrol price boycott - Google Groups
Fuel protests in the United Kingdom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Looking to France's celtic fringe, there has been a huge campaign of late against the proposed 'eco-tax' by Breton hauliers:
French eco tax mobilises new generation of Breton red caps | World news | The Guardian
FRANCE: France's Brittany region prepares for more protests against government tax policies
Bonnets Rouges Show Hollande the Red Card | FrenchNewsOnline
France gives in to ecotax protestors
Yes Kernow: More on the Breton elections : The two faced French Socialists.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes : la manifestation a dégénéré dans les rues de Nantes - RTL.fr

With the UK budget just announced, West Country voices have raised the issue of transport:

"Carleen Kelemen, chairman of the Institute of Directors in Devon and Cornwall, said: "Connectivity is critical to the local economy. A substantial ring-fenced budget allocation for our transport infrastructure to make it fit for the 21st century would get a standing ovation from me.”"Budget 2014: Chancellor Osborne has clear opportunity to deliver real change for better | Western Morning News

But how to make sure 'better infrastructure' does not mean 'more emissions'?

Cornwall Council has taken steps to invest in 'green infrastructure', mirroring other projects across the region:
Cornwall Council - Council secures more than £1m funding for electric vehicle charging points
Cornwall hosts electric vehicle rally | Next Green Car
» Good News Cornwall & Devon: Electric car charge points to be installed across South West My Czero & Nissan Leaf Electric Car(s)
News - Environment and Sustainability Institute - University of Exeter

Another 'solution' is the carpool or car club:
Dorchester car share club set to expand (From Dorset Echo)

A car club for Plymouth?

A shared approach to transport in Plymouth
Promoting alternatives to private car use and company car use makes for a healthier city and a healthier population. To save money and stay healthy, more people are taking up cycling, walking and using of public transport. But for commuting, leisure and business travel there are still trips where a car is ideal. This is where car clubs fit in.
The shared approach of car clubs has helped lots of people and organisations in cities like Bristol, Brighton and Edinburgh to rethink their car use. In fact 150,000 people in Britain and a million in Europe are using car clubs to reduce the need to own a car or to take one to work. Now, Plymouth City Council is exploring a plan to introduce a car club to the city – starting next spring.
A car club for Plymouth?
Two principle options are being explored by Plymouth City Council:

> The introduction of a car club for use by residents and small businesses – and maybe some larger employers

> A new model of car use for business travel for large parts of the council staff – pool cars – which in some locations can make use of self-service car club cars.
Plymouth City Council has commissioned Carplus, the national shared transport NGO, to explore options that better serve the travel needs of the council and will provide added benefit to the community.

A car club for Plymouth?

And in Somerset & Dorset, there is a campaign to reinstate the railways:
"The New Somerset and Dorset Railway was formed on 6 March 2009, 43 years to the day since the original S&D closed to passengers. It was formed as a reaction to climate change, peak oil, capacity restraints on the network and inefficiency in other forms of transport.
"Our aim is to use a mix of lobbying, strategic track-bed purchase, fundraising and encouragement and support of groups already preserving sections of the route, as well as working with local and national government, local people, countryside groups and railway enthusiasts, to restore sections of the route as they become viable."

New Somerset and Dorset Railway > About Us
Expanding and improving the rail network - Policy - GOV.UK

We still have a long way to go, though...
Futures Forum: What transport infrastructure do we want for East Devon?

No comments: