Monday, November 1, 2010

National Infrastructure Plan

The Coalition has published a plan that "sets out the Government’s vision for major infrastructure investment in the UK".

Among other items, it addresses "transforming energy and transport systems to deliver a low carbon economy".

However, it doesn't us the C-word once. Cycling! There - I said it! The nearest the document comes to using the dreaded C-word is

"...introduce a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund, to encourage local schemes
which will change behaviour and encourage more sustainable travel, especially for
short journeys"

This is toe-curlingly coy and euphamistic. What  it should say, in plain English is:

"...introduce a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund, to encourage local schemes
which will change motoring behaviour and encourage more cycling, walking and public transport, especially for short journeys"

Trouble is, localism doesn't work in this context. Local councillors know that people don't want the council forcing them to change their motoring behaviour. That's a sure-fire vote loser. Councils will be trying to divert as much money as possible from their current spend on "sustainable transport" into the core areas that get them votes, being road maintenance, parking, rubbish collection and education. The void will be filled by the "Local Sustainable Transport Fund." As a result, it seems likely that overall spend on "sustainable transport" will go down. The Coalition will be able to wave their hands and say "it's not our fault - it's a local decision".

Instead of trying to reduce car use, the Government continue to be fixated on the unattainable and very expensive solution of "decarbonisation of the car fleet" by "providing support for electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles". This is where the numbers don't add up. You cannot decarbonise through a substantial shift to electric cars without having supporting renewable generating capacity. It makes far more sense to eliminate car miles, or replace car miles with cycle miles or public transport miles. But you cannot do that while pretending that every journey is necessary. The Coalition need to face up to the fact that current levels of motoring are only possible because the energy price is linked to a plentiful supply of cheap oil.. We need to decarbonise transport, but the most economical way to do this is to reduce total transport miles. We know that many car journeys are easily cyclable, and increasing cycle use would be a lot cheaper than subsidising electric car purchase to the tune of £5000 a pop and building sufficient additional renewable generating capacity to power the cars.

No comments:

Post a Comment