Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Gogs Against The Motorway" -the new "North Wales anthem!" -

Planning White Paper means less say on transport decisions
The government's Planning White Paper published on 21 May contains some disastrous proposals for groups opposing road schemes. As if the current system is not unfair enough, the Government also proposes to hand over decision-making powers to an 'independent' planning commission (which they will appoint) that will have a 'presumption in favour' of passing schemes that conform to new Government-decided national policy statements. You would no longer be able to question the need or economic justification for a scheme, and you may not even have the right to appear at the inquiry! For local road schemes, the Government proposes to leave all decision making to local authorities, and reduce the amount of call-ins, where the Government calls a public inquiry. This would mean that local councils apply to themselves and grant their own planning permissions with no public inquiry! It is an absolute disaster, but fortunately several national groups have formed a Planning Coalition Group to campaign against the proposals.

The coalition want as many people as possible to send in comments, to the Dept for Communities and Local Government, by 17 August. The coalition is organising a fortnight of action from 30 June to 14 July, with a day of action by local groups on Saturday 14 July. Please consider organising an demonstration on that day. The coalition’s Planning Disaster website is being updated to include an email to send to the Government. In the meantime you can send a letter or download a resource pack from the Friends of the Earth website. FoE is also producing a printed copy and postcards for giving out to members of the public at stalls – email Owen Espley if you’d like some.

Transport 2000 release new research on low-carbon transport solutions
Research by MTRU for Transport 2000 has challenged the findings of the Stern report that carbon emissions from transport are more expensive to tackle than other sectors. The Government has been using this claim as an excuse for allowing transport carbon emissions to rise - including through creating traffic growth through road building. It shows that we have to tackle transport CO2 as we cannot rely on other sectors of the economy to make those cuts when they already have ambitious targets. It also reveals that to change travel behaviour will be more equitable also, and has other benefits such as improving air quality. The research and a summary are available on the Transport 2000 website.

"Smarter Choices" work!
The three year results are out for the three Sustainable Travel Towns and they show that "Smarter Choices" measures have had an enormous impact on reducing car trips, and encouraging public transport use and cycling and walking. The three projects at Darlington, Peterborough and Worcester mainly involved nothing more than simply telling people about public transport options, starting car share schemes and encouraging people to walk and cycle more. The first three year results show that:
* Darlington - public transport trips up 14%, walking up 29%, cycling up 79%. Car trips were down 11%
* Peterborough - public transport up 13%, walking up 21%, cycling up 25%. Car trips were down 13%
* Worcester - public transport up 22%, walking up 17%, cycling up 36%. Car trips were down 12%
This is better than any road scheme could do to cut congestion, and cuts CO2 and is healthier too! And it is a fraction of the price. Now why is all that money being poured into roadbuilding...? See the Government press release

Government to rethink the rules for deciding road schemes
The Government's methodology for deciding road projects (the New Approach To Appraisal - NATA) is now almost 10 years old and is being rewritten. Currently it is very biased towards making a road look economically good, whilst down-playing the environmental costs. There will be a consultation in the Autumn. Transport 2000 will be getting in there to influence the new guidance to value the environment higher.