The Government and local councils have come under fire for failing to take steps to cut traffic and carbon emissions – and ignoring the advice of the Government’s own expert advisor.
Friends of the Earth and Sustrans have both joined in the criticism, which centres on the fact that only a ‘tiny fraction’ of the £6 billion dedicated for local authorities to spend on transport plans has been spent on sustainable travel.
A report by both organisations, conducted by Halcrow, made the findings in the same week that the Government revealed that over the last year traffic has barely fallen and congestion has not improved.
The independent Committee on Climate Change advises the Government and has called for a roll-out of ‘Smarter Travel Choices’ across the towns and cities of the UK promoting greener travel, including walking and cycling, public transport car sharing.
“Despite rising petrol prices and on going congestion problems, local councils are failing to deliver schemes proven to get more people out of cars and onto cleaner and healthier forms of transport, said Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth’s transport campaigner.
“The Government must heed the advice of its own green adviser and ensure every local council plays its part by boosting their spending on schemes to get people walking, cycling and using public transport.
“Smarter Travel Choices are a win-win for councils and people – they are an easy and value-for-money way to cut congestion and emissions and protect people from rising petrol prices.”
Jason Torrance, Sustrans Policy Manager, added: “A greater proportion of existing budgets needs to be spent on enabling people to make smarter travel choices if carbon reduction targets are to be met and people’s quality of live is to be improved. Our experience is that there is a huge potential to transform the way that people are able to travel for their everyday journeys – all that is needed is the political leadership to spend existing budgets cost effectively.
“National government must ring-fence funding support within existing budgets to levels that brought about results in the Sustainable Travel Towns. And this must be followed up with evaluation of past LTPs to guide future cost-effective funding, something that is desperately lacking at the moment.”