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Framework to deliver a new low carbon transport system

A new framework to deliver a transport system to support the economy and reduce carbon emissions has been unveiled by Ruth Kelly. Unusually for government, it takes a relatively long-term view, but funding over the next six years will be focused on the most congested routes.

The discussion document ‘Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting economic growth in a low carbon world’ is the Department for Transport’s response to both the Eddington Transport Study and the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.

It proposes a new approach to longer term transport strategy and explains how the Department will engage with passengers, users, the transport industry and other stakeholders as it develops and implements that process.

It’s the first stage of a consultation process to deliver a transport system that meets the key objectives of supporting the country’s economic competitiveness and helping address climate change.

It argues that forcing the pace of technological improvements and removing the obstacles to behavioural change will be key to ensuring transport makes a substantial contribution to the goal of at least a 60% reduction of CO2 by 2050. It will begin the development of a robust plan for cutting transport’s carbon footprint and will ensure that attention is focused where the most benefit can be gained.

The document demonstrates how this new approach to planning will be underpinned by long term funding. The recent Comprehensive Spending Review means that the Department for Transport now has a long term funding guideline to 2019 and that spending on transport will be double what it was twenty years previously.

Given the fact that transport spending takes time, investment plans up to 2013/14 are largely set and funding over the next six years will be focused on the most congested routes.

Beyond 2014 the document shows that over £20 billion of Government funding could still be allocated to specific improvements up to 2019. This funding, when combined with further private sector investment, would give the opportunity to make substantial further improvements to the country’s transport network.

‘Towards a Sustainable Transport System’ sets out a new strategic approach to ensure this funding is put to best use. It outlines how the Department will engage with passengers, users, the transport industry and other stakeholders as it develops and implements that process. The next stage will be the publication of a Green Paper and formal consultation in the spring 2008.

Ruth Kelly, Transport Secretary said: “Our aim is to support people’s desire for mobility whilst ensuring that transport contributes to the overall reduction in carbon emissions.

“This framework document will help us deliver a transport system that meets that aim and dispels the myth that as an economy we face the false choice of being ‘poor and green’ or ‘rich and dirty’.

“It gives us the opportunity to deliver, for the first time, a ‘pro-green/pro-growth’ agenda for transport in the short and medium term.

“It is a process that is backed up by a long term funding commitment and will include the serious engagement of passengers, transport users and other key organisations”.

Sir Rod Eddington said: “I welcome the Department’s positive response not just to my report but also to Sir Nick Stern’s review. Sir Nick was my chief academic advisor and he and I were both very aware of the links between our reports.

“My Study was clear that the performance of the UK’s transport networks will be crucial in sustaining the UK’s competitiveness. The Study was equally clear that, to meet both its economic and environmental challenges, the transport sector needs to pay its full costs. I also recommended that, in the long term, the policy making process needed to adapt to meet those challenges.

“It is right that the Department is setting out ambitious plans to implement a new process, involving intensive stakeholder and transport user engagement.”

The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the Government’s alignment of transport planning with the principles contained in the Eddington report – action to improve inter-urban corridors, intra-urban centres and international gateways; the alignment of planning timelines for all transport modes, and the mix of policy measures, including investment in pinch-points and the importance of reliable journey times. The FTA also agrees with the goals of improving competitiveness, safety and the quality of life, advancing the equality of opportunity and reducing carbon, and says that efficient supply chains help to deliver all of these aspirations.

‘Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting economic growth in a low carbon world’ is available on the DfT website
www.dft.gov.uk.