Greens slam government’s ‘dependency on cars’

Green Party responds to government’s Road Investment Strategy 2015-2020 published last week (March 12)

The government’s road building strategy is a “massive mistake” and does not include enough investment in public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure, according to the Green Party.

Green Party local transport spokesperson Caroline Russell claimed that the government’s proposed £10 per head investment in walking and cycling is “a mere drop in the ocean compared to what needs to be spent to gain the huge benefits to public health from increased levels of active travel for daily journeys”.

Improvements to junctions on the M25 motorway are among the schemes announced as part of the government's £15 billion 'roads revolution'

Improvements to junctions on the M25 motorway are among the schemes announced as part of the government’s £15 billion ‘roads revolution’

She added that the government “seems determined to condemn us to yet more polluted, dangerous and unpleasant roads” which she said was at odds with current public trends towards more alternative forms of transport.

Speaking on Friday (March 13), the Islington councillor said: “We should be looking to further this positive trend by investing in effective and affordable networks of rail and buses, not trying to prolong our dependency on cars, along with safe and convenient walking and cycling routes so people can get to where they need to go with ease and have a real alternative to car use and ownership.”

Cllr Russell’s comments came in response to the Road Investment Strategy 2015/16 – 2019/20, which outlines plans for the government’s £15 billion investment in roads over the next five years. It was presented to parliament last week pursuant to section three of the Infrastructure Act 2015.

It is not the first time air quality campaigners have criticised the ‘roads revolution’ proposals , which further details announced last December revealed will see around 100 new road improvement schemes and the addition of 1,300 miles of extra lanes to motorways and A-roads (see story).

However, the government’s Strategy published last week (March 12) states that “techniques that we use to counter environmental problems are extensive, and have improved greatly in the past 20 years” and that where possible new roads will “try to make best use of the existing route”.

The Roads Strategy adds: “This is not to say that road schemes will not continue to have an environmental impact; but today that impact is better understood and more thoroughly addressed than ever it has been before.”

And, among newly-created government company Highways England’s responsibilities will be to ensure that 95% of the strategic road network has a charging point every 20 miles, which will “wherever possible” be rapid charging points able to charge a battery-powered electric vehicle in under 30 minutes.

The Strategy states: “The past thirty years have seen tailpipe emissions fall, pollutants removed from petrol, fuel economy rise and carbon emissions decrease significantly per mile driven. This process will continue and accelerate.”

Furthermore, the strategy also outlines noise measures, explaining that “all new and improved roads now use low noise road surfaces to help reduce the noise made by vehicles” and that “improvements in vehicles technology mean vehicles are quieter than they have ever been”.

Highways England, which will be answerable to parliament, will take over the running of major A roads an motorways from April 1 2015.

Related Links:

Road Investment Strategy 2015/16 – 2019/20


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