Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) (TYP 13)


  1.  CPRE welcomed the 10 Year Transport Plan when it was launched in July 2000. We expressed concern at the time, however, about the focus of investment in tackling congestion, rather than traffic growth more generally (which is the greater problem in rural areas), and the large road building programme outlined which threatens important areas of countryside.

  2.  These concerns remain and have been exacerbated by other events—such as the Hatfield crash and the fuel crisis—which have influenced the implementation of integrated transport solutions. The Committee's inquiry comes at a good time, therefore, to consider the lessons learnt so far and the actions needed to get transport policy back on track.

  3.  CPRE's submission highlights:

    —  the need for the Government to restate its commitment to the aims of the Transport White Paper. Without this, there is a risk that the investment provided by the 10 Year Plan will be frittered away on a range of projects which together fail to address the environmental, economic and social problems caused by existing travel patterns;

    —  the problem of focussing investment too narrowly on tackling congestion and improving mobility at the expense of spending on measures aimed more generally at reducing traffic intrusion in urban and rural areas and improving accessibility. We refer to research for CPRE by Professor Phil Goodwin on the Government's indicator for congestion which shows that it is unlikely to be a useful tool in providing information on changing travel conditions. The research concludes that by relying on the wrong measure of success, the Plan may result in schemes which are not the most appropriate or effective;

    —  the need for the review of the Plan to better address the problems of rising traffic growth, one of the Government's Headline Indicators for Sustainable Development;

    —  concern that the Plan underestimates traffic growth due to changing factors such as motoring costs falling farther than assumed, the likely failure of public transport schemes (especially rail) to attract sufficient new passengers, and likely changes resulting from the Planning Green Paper which will undermine effective integration of land use and transport planning and result in longer journeys;

    —  concern that in implementing the Plan, the Government may concentrate on seeing schemes delivered, without giving sufficient weight to their environmental impact or whether they add up to an integrated transport system;

    —  the benefits of small scale measures to promote walking and cycling which have been undervalued in the Plan;

    —  the problem that some of the multi-modal studies are becoming dominated by road schemes as these are in a more advanced state of readiness for development, rather than necessarily being the right solution; and

    —  the need to re-examine the targets for bus patronage in the Plan, to develop a new indicator for rural bus use which reflects actual changes in patronage, not simply the supply of services, and to ensure the overall plan is "rural proofed".

  4.  As the Government undertakes its Spending Review, it is important that some of the assumptions underlying the 10 Year Transport Plan are questioned, and the direction of its implementation refocused. In our view, it is crucial to maintain a high level of investment in transport, but to direct this investment more clearly towards projects which reduce the need to travel, which manage the intrusion of traffic in towns and villages, and which benefit people travelling by foot and bike to the same degree as those making longer journeys by car or train.


  1.  The Transport White Paper published in 1998, was hailed as a major landmark in transport policy. The 10 Year Plan following two years later was its crucial complement—providing the substantial investment needed to deliver change. While CPRE was among the many organisations welcoming the 10 Year Plan, we also sounded a note of caution at the time.

  2.  It was clear to CPRE that between the Transport White Paper and the 10 Year Plan the policy focus had shifted from the broader aims of reducing traffic and the need to travel, to the more narrow goal of reducing congestion. The solutions favoured in the Plan were big, expensive infrastructure schemes, such as new roads and trams over smaller-scale local solutions and land use planning.

  3.  CPRE raised concerns that the focus on cutting congestion by delivering a range of big projects (such as road and rail schemes) could prove problematic: because of the environmental impact; the cost and the time involved in implementation; and the need for complementary measures to manage demand for car travel which were largely absent from the Plan. Since the Plan's publication, a number of significant events has served to highlight these problems and to throw the implementation of the 10 Year Plan into doubt. The Committee's inquiry comes at a good time, therefore, to consider the lessons learnt so far and the actions needed to get transport policy back on track.


  4.  The 10 Year Transport Plan immediately faced the challenge of changing circumstances. Most notably the combination of tragic accidents on the rail network (such as the Hatfield crash), together with the recent administrative changes, has served to throw real doubt on the Government's target to increase passenger use of the railways by 50 per cent. In addition, public outcry about rising fuel costs—resulting in the "fuel crisis" of autumn 2000—has led to Government nervousness about fuel tax policy and more generally the introduction of congestion and workplace parking charges. These changes affect two crucial elements of the Plan: the improvement in public transport as an alternative to the car, and assumptions about the cost of motoring. It is too soon to know the long-term impact on implementation of the Plan, but the result is likely to lead to greater car dependence and traffic growth than originally forecast. This is discussed further below.

  5.  Any plan or policy needs to respond to changing circumstances, but we are concerned that in terms of transport policy the Government has not been sufficiently robust in backing up its own policies. Since the Transport White Paper was published in 1998, there has been a notable decline in support for policies to reduce demand for car travel and a lack of vigour in championing the need for measures such as congestion charging and the workplace parking levy. The 10 Year Plan reinstated plans for new road building, and subsequently, the Planning Green Paper has raised the possibility that Structure Plans will be abolished, leaving county councils with transport planning powers, but without parallel land use planning responsibilities. All these changes make it increasingly difficult to achieve the overall vision of change set out in the Transport White Paper.

  6.  We believe that the Government needs to restate its commitment to the aims of the Transport White Paper—characterised by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, as the goal of "using the car a little less and public transport a little more". Without strong leadership of this nature, there is a risk that the investment provided by the 10 Year Plan will be frittered away on a range of projects which together fail to address the environmental, economic and social problems caused by existing travel patterns.


  7.  In addition to the impact of events external to the Plan, there is the need to consider whether the assumptions underlying the Plan are themselves internally consistent. In particular, it is clear that reducing congestion is now the main driver of transport policy and the Plan forecasts that congestion can be reduced by six per cent by 2010 at the same time as traffic overall is forecast to increase by 17 per cent and 21 per cent on rural roads. Achieving this outcome would be unprecedented and prompted CPRE to commission Professor Phil Goodwin to examine this issue more closely. His report to CPRE, Running to Stand Still is enclosed and the findings summarised here.

Measuring congestion

  8.  Professor Goodwin's analysis of the 10 Year Plan showed that while reductions in congestion could be achieved, their real magnitude depends on how congestion is actually measured. The approach to measuring congestion used by the Government relies on detecting differences in traffic speeds between optimum free flow conditions and those when congested. In reality, the forecast changes in speed are likely to be so small as to be undetectable for most motorists. For example, he estimates that when the 6 per cent reduction in congestion (by 2010) is translated into actual savings in travel times, these are forecast to reduce by less than one quarter of one second per mile each year adding up to about two seconds per mile. He concludes that:

    "for all classes of roads, the traveller's experience of improvement or deterioration in average speeds from any one year to the next will be invisibly small compared with the normal unpredictable variations in the conditions of daily travel"—page 5, Running to Stand Still

  9.  These findings raise serious implications about the implementation of the 10 Year Plan. As Professor Goodwin sums up:

    "the tentative conclusion at this stage is not that reducing congestion is unimportant, but that this measure, though called "congestion", may not give useful signals about the success in doing so. By focusing on the wrong measure it may lead to policies or schemes which are not the best that could be devised."—page 21, Running to Stand Still

  10.  His findings would appear to be supported by DTLR commissioned qualitative research examining drivers' perception of congestion. The research, published in December 2001 and undertaken using focus groups in April-June 2001, concluded that "the idea of making regular measurements of congestion levels and publishing the results does not seem to be intrinsically interesting to many motorists... moreover in the examples shown to study participants the indicated changes over 10 years are usually felt to be so small as to be trivial" (DTLR, December 2001). It went on, "heavy traffic imposes various pressures and stresses on drivers, quite apart from its propensity to cause delays. These pressures need to be recognised, but are not so clearly conveyed by the word `congestion'".

  11.  We urge the Committee to examine how the Government is developing its congestion indicator and to question how far it provides useful information on the actual experience of travelling by car. In addition, we recommend that the DTLR should develop alternative indicators which may be more useful in reflecting the everyday travelling experience, such as an indicator for journey reliability. These could lead to a different emphasis of investment.

Rising Traffic Levels—does the Plan underestimate traffic growth?

  12.  The Plan forecasts that traffic levels will increase in all areas (17 per cent nationally), with the greatest increases experienced outside major towns and cities. While this in itself is worrying as many rural areas are already blighted by traffic, it may be that the Plan underestimates the future levels of traffic and too little action will be taken to address this problem.

  13.  Several factors are likely to influence traffic growth, but in particular: assumptions about the cost of motoring; the impact of public transport improvements; and the ability to reduce the need to travel by better planning land use and transport interactions. In all these cases, circumstances have changed since the publication of the 10 Year Plan.

The cost of motoring

  14.  The Plan estimates that motoring costs will fall by 20 per cent in real terms by 2010, largely due to the savings brought about by improved vehicle technologies. It also assumes that these falls in cost would be moderated by the continued imposition of fuel duties and the introduction of local congestion charging. Since then, however, fuel duties have been cut on both diesel and petrol and the introduction of local charging schemes is looking less certain in many areas. While the impact of this has been partly offset by rising oil prices, there are now real questions whether motoring costs may indeed fall by more than 20 per cent over the next 10 years with the likely effect of encouraging more journeys by car and further traffic growth.

  15.  We encourage the Committee to explore how far the DTLR believes the estimate of a 20 per cent fall in motoring costs by 2010 is still robust and the implications for forecasts in traffic levels.

  16.  In addition, in Running to Stand Still, Professor Goodwin suggests that the Government may have underestimated the sensitivity of traffic growth to motoring cost changes. In comparing the elasticities of traffic levels in response to fuel price used in the Plan, he concludes that the model used by the DTLR showed a "substantially lower sensitivity of traffic to price changes than is suggested by the research literature in general".

  17.  The importance of this is that if the long term price elasticity used in the model is too low (potentially by a factor of four or five), then it will underestimate the impact of price changes on traffic growth. If price reductions result (for example, as a result of the 2001 Budget cuts in fuel duty), then traffic growth would be higher than expected in the Plan.

The impact of public transport improvements

  18.  The 10 Year Plan assumes that a significant amount of traffic growth will be suppressed by the action of people opting to use improved rail services—even at the same time as the road network is being improved and motoring costs are falling. History would suggest that this assumption is optimistic: although improvements to public transport can certainly attract car users, this does not automatically result in a proportionate reduction in traffic unless restrictive measures are put in place. This seems increasingly unlikely in view of recent statements by the Government. For example in evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Secretary of State for Transport, Stephen Byers, said:

    "I'm not someone who wants to stop people using their car if that's their preferred mode of travel."(Local Transport Today, 29 November 2001)

  19.  Furthermore, the recent chaos on the rail network means that planned improvements in rail services are likely to be delayed and throw into question assumptions about the number of people who will opt for rail over road for future journeys.

Reducing the need to travel

  20.  One of the strongest features of the Transport White Paper was its emphasis on integrating land use and transport planning, with the aim of reducing the need to travel. Recently, the Government has published proposals in the form of the Green Paper on Planning which raise the option of removing county councils' responsibility for land use planning. This would leave shire counties with transport planning powers, but without the parallel responsibility for land use planning. This retrograde step is likely to unpick the progress made in recent years in planning transport and land use more closely and to result in longer journeys and traffic growth. Newly published transport statistics confirm that journey lengths are still rising (eg commuting trips have increased by 16 per cent over the last decade) and only reinforce the need to address this issue. Longer trips and a reliance on mobility, rather than accessibility, risks placing additional and unnecessary burdens on the transport network.

  21.  We hope the Committee will explore how far the proposals set out in the Government's Green Paper on Planning are consistent with the approach to integrated land use/transport planning advocated in the Transport White Paper and 10 Year Plan. Furthermore, CPRE recommends that the review of the 10 Year Plan introduce a target to reduce average distances travelled for all purposes by 2010.

  22.  If the Plan underestimates forecast traffic growth, as suggested here, then the success of new projects in reducing congestion is likely to be compromised. As reducing congestion is viewed as the headline indicator of success for the Plan, it is important that the DTLR constantly reviews its assumptions in this area.

  23.  In addition to the potential for traffic growth to undermine action to reduce congestion, the 10 Year Plan should also address more forcibly the effects of traffic growth in its own right. It is worth considering three environmental factors—air quality, noise and energy consumption, all of which would suggest more action is needed towards overall traffic reduction. The Government's consultation on developing an Air Quality Strategy, for example, highlights the effects of overall traffic growth. It notes in relation to particles, "technological developments will certainly make a significant contribution to reducing emissions of particles from road transport. In the short to medium term, however, they are unlikely to provide a complete solution, partly because of the large number of older vehicles that will remain on the roads and partly because traffic growth is expected to continue" (The Air Quality Strategy: A Consultation Document). A similar picture is provided in the recent consultation on an Ambient Noise Strategy, which acknowledges that a combination of action through technological improvements, traffic management and planning "has considerably reduced the output of noise from individual sources but often failed to reduce the overall ambient noise because of other factors such as the growth in the number of vehicles on our roads" (paragraph 1.1.3). And in relation to energy, the UK transport sector was responsible for using energy equivalent to 52.4 million tonnes of oil in 1997, the highest rate of consumption in the whole of Europe after Germany (European Environment Agency, Are We Moving in the Right Direction?—indicators on transport and environmental integration in the EU, 2000) and energy consumption is continuing to increase as traffic grows.

  24.  Overall traffic levels is one of 15 Headline Indicators selected by the Government to measure whether progress is being made in moving towards sustainable development. The Government's Sustainable Development Strategy, A Better Quality of Life, makes clear: "The Government's aim is for all the headline indicators to move in the right direction over time, or, where a satisfactory level has been reached, to prevent a reversal. Where a trend is unacceptable, the Government will adjust policies accordingly, and will look to others to join it in taking action" (A Better Quality of Life, paragraph 3.7). Discounting for one moment uncertainty over the precise magnitude of increase, it is clear that even with the 10 Year Plan, traffic levels will continue to be rising in an unsustainable manner. CPRE believes this requires a re-focusing of the Plan.

  25.  We hope the Committee will examine how far the estimates of traffic growth in the Plan are accurate and to consider whether further action should be taken by the Government to reduce traffic growth and further the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy.


  26.  One of the controversial aspects of the 10 Year Plan was that it was very specific in terms of the numbers of projects (especially new road schemes) that would result from the investment of £180 billion. The DETR press release proudly proclaimed that by 2010 there would be "100 new bypasses, 360 miles of trunk road and motorway widening, up to 25 new light rail projects", and so forth. Three problems with this approach quickly became apparent.

  27.  The first is that the Government itself actually has very little control over the delivery of public transport or road projects. Even the planning of major roads has now been devolved to the regional level for consideration by Regional Planning Bodies. Where the Government does have an obvious role is in allocating funding for schemes to be built, such as through the Local Transport Settlement. In some cases, however, CPRE believes the Government has been too eager to fund schemes to meet the 10 Year Plan's goals, but with insufficient environmental consideration. For example, in the Local Transport Settlement in December 2000, the Government gave provisional approval for over 70 road schemes. Several of these will damage areas nationally designated for their landscape or wildlife importance. Again in December 2001, several road schemes were approved with potentially negative environmental impacts.

  28.  Second, it is not clear that this rather ad hoc approach to selecting X number of bypasses, widening schemes, light rail schemes etc will actually deliver an integrated transport system on the ground. The emphasis of the 10 Year Plan was to improve transport across all modes, so making it easier to travel. This is in contrast, however, to the approach set out in the Transport White Paper which identified a clear direction for investment with the aim of encouraging people to use their cars less and make the most of the existing road network.

  29.  Thirdly, without evidence of any assessment of the road schemes suggested to be built, the 10 Year Plan severely undermines the Government's commitment in the Transport White Paper that new roads should be an option of last resort. This shift in policy is reinforced by recent ministerial comments (see below).

    "Since new roads can lead to more traffic, adding to the problem not reducing it, all plausible options need to be considered before a new road is built"—1998 Transport White Paper (paragraph 3.126).

    "New road schemes will always be one of the solutions to transport problems"—Rt Hon John Spellar MP, Minister for Transport in a letter to CPRE concerning the Local Transport Settlement 2001 (21.12.01).

  30.  We hope the Committee will examine whether recent funding decisions by the Government (such as the Local Transport Settlements) are consistent with the aims of the Transport White Paper. CPRE recommends that the review of the Plan recognise that the number of infrastructure projects outlined in the Plan are indicative spending allocations rather than targets for infrastructure building, and for Ministers to reiterate the Government's policy that new road building should be an option of last resort.

Delivering small schemes to tame traffic and promote walking and cycling

  31.  Around 43 per cent of all journeys are under two miles in length (Focus on Personal Travel 2001 ed) and it is widely recognised that many of the remedies for traffic intrusion and car dependence—in both urban and rural areas—could be small scale works to manage traffic, slow speeds and improve conditions for walking and cycling. Delivering such projects is often quicker, cheaper and easier than relying on more major works (such as bypass building). A recent DTLR assessment of road safety schemes undertaken by TRL, for example, found they have average first year rates of return of 500 per cent with cycle schemes and area-wide safety schemes offering the lowest reductions in accidents (Local Transport Today, 13.12.01). Such projects can also bring wider benefits in terms of renewing town and city centres and making these more attractive places to live in and visit.

  32.  Sadly, the importance of walking and cycling was grossly undervalued in the 10 Year Plan. Indeed, the model used did not include these options in its analysis or estimate the extent of possible modal shift from other modes to walking and cycling. As a result, CPRE and others were concerned that investment in these modes will lose out to investment in public transport and road projects. It is unclear, for example, whether the Department has a clear implementation strategy—through Transport 2010—to deliver on its target of tripling the number of cycling trips by 2010.

  33.  Subsequent to the Plan, (and in the wake of the inquiry by the ETR Committee on Walking in Towns and Cities) the Government has restated its commitment to promoting walking. However, we believe it would be helpful if further encouragement could be given to local authorities to develop walking, cycling and road safety projects as combinations of small schemes in order that they be grouped together as a "major bid" under the Local Transport Settlement. Although the DTLR has said that it will accept such bids, this is not widely understood and most local authorities have not bid for funding in this way. This would also be encouraged if the Department developed appropriate guidance on how to assess the value for money of packages of schemes, for comparison with road and rail schemes.

  34.  CPRE is also concerned that the introduction of the Single Capital Pot may inadvertently disadvantage small scale sustainable transport measures. It is our understanding that while the funds for major infrastructure projects costing more than £5 million will be ring-fenced, smaller schemes will need to compete against other political priorities of the local authority. Our concern is not necessarily with the merits of alternative spending options, but rather, in the inherent bias which is created towards more expensive, large scale infrastructure projects.

  35.  We encourage the Committee to consider ways to encourage the delivery of major projects comprising a number of small measures to tame traffic and promote walking and cycling, and to assess the potential of the introduction of the Single Capital Pot to disadvantage their take up.

The Multi-Modal Studies

  36.  CPRE welcomed the decision arising out of the Transport White Paper and Roads Review to undertake a series of Multi-Modal Studies (MMS). Our local representatives have participated in Steering Group or wider Reference Group discussions for many of the studies. The aim of the studies was to find a range of solutions to transport problems. It has become increasingly clear, however, that many of the studies were compromised from the outset because the areas chosen for study were previously defined by problems on specific roads, rather than being based on more meaningful geographic areas (eg travel to work areas). The Midlands to Manchester MMS, which was already well underway and looking at problems along the M6 corridor, was similarly compromised when the Deputy Prime Minister's statement to Parliament in launching the 10 Year Plan said, "The programme includes 21 billion pounds for the strategic road network. This is enough to widen 360 miles of the most congested roads, such as the A1 and M6."

  37.  The studies' ability to identify solutions has been affected by the availability of information which has usually been more readily available from highways authorities and the Highways Agency, than private rail and bus operators. In short, in many areas road schemes are at a more advanced stage of preparation and therefore easier for the studies "to pull off the shelf". While the results in some areas may be worthwhile, therefore, it is not clear that the end result will fulfil the vision for integrated transport set out in the Transport White Paper. At worst, we may end up with a series of damaging road building projects as they were the easiest options for the studies to select, but are not necessarily the right solutions. We have been particularly concerned by a protocol recently agreed between Ministers and the Highways Agency which risks pre-empting the results of the studies. Specifically, the Protocol states that "there will be circumstances where it would be useful for the Highways Agency to carry out further work on road schemes, which are likely to emerge from the multi-modal study (MMS) process, before decisions have been made". While similar proposals are promised for rail schemes and the Strategic Rail Authority, the current administrative changes to the running of the railways will create significant problems and are likely to lead to an overall bias towards new road building.

  38.  Significant new road building proposals were a key part of the West Midlands MMS. This includes bypasses for Wolverhampton, Sourbridge and Wall Heath, and widening of the M42 to five lanes between the M40 and M6/Birmingham Northern Relief Road. The route of such road building corresponds closely (if not by name) to that of the Western Orbital Motorway which was withdrawn from the national roads programme in 1996. Road building, of the scale envisaged would represent one of the worst incursions into Green Belt of recent years and encourage sprawling development, contrary to land use planning policies, and further undermine integration. Elsewhere, the Midlands to Manchester MMS looks set to recommend major road widening of the M6, and the London to South West and South Wales Study (SWARMMS) is considering dualling the A303/A30 through the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as part of its Emerging Strategy.

  39.  We hope the Committee will investigate the extent to which Multi-Modal Studies are delivering new solutions to transport problems, as envisaged by the Transport White Paper, whether the new Protocol agreed by Ministers and the Highways Agency will bias MMS in favour of new road building, and what measures are in place to ensure effective delivery of small scale sustainable transport and public transport improvements.

Rural areas and bus use

  40.  In announcing the development of a 10 Year Plan, the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott MP said that "we must make sure that all rural communities are connected to a reliable bus service" (Speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research, 13 December 1999). The 10 Year Plan promised "big improvements in rural transport" (DETR press notice 484). In recent years, most efforts have focussed on improving rural bus services with the introduction of new funding. While many of these services have been widely welcomed, their impact on bus passenger growth and car use are not yet clear. As Professor Goodwin and others have noted, the discussion of buses in the 10 Year Plan is inconsistent and confusing. While the Plan estimates that there will be a 50 per cent increase in the number of bus passengers entering central London, it suggests that there will only be a 10 per cent increase in passenger numbers nationally (including London). This implies that there will actually be a reduction in bus use outside London, which is clearly at odds with the direction of the Government's policy on buses and with the specific target for rural buses set out in the Plan. The actions of bus operators in withdrawing services and the difficulty in recruiting additional staff has created further problems.

  41.  Quite clearly, any reduction in bus passengers nationally would run counter to the goals of the Transport White Paper and in rural areas it would be desirable to aim for steady growth along the lines of 10 per cent passenger growth by 2010.

  42.  At present, the Government's target is a one-third increase in the number of rural households within a 10 minute walk of an hourly or better bus service. While this tells us about the supply of bus services, it does not reveal whether they are actually being used or not. In revising the 10 Year Plan, therefore, we believe the Government should develop a new target for rural bus use which monitors actual passenger levels (in parallel with the target for rail passenger growth). It could be supported by a suite of indicators to address other important issues (eg cost, reliability, responsiveness, vehicle performance and accessibility). An indicator of passenger levels would reveal more about the impact of investment in rural public transport services and highlight where more investment or action is needed to actually boost usage.

  43.  We hope the Committee will consider how bus use nationally, and in rural areas in particular, can be boosted as a result of the 10 Year Plan and to support CPRE's call for a new indicator for rural bus passenger growth.


  44.  In preparing the 10 Year Plan, DTLR officials often referred to it as the "final chapter" in the Transport White Paper. Of course, in the intervening two years between the White Paper and the Plan, policy circumstances had somewhat altered and the focus of the Plan is different in a number of key areas. The most important change to note—as it effects the implementation of the Plan—is that the focus of concern shifted from reducing traffic growth to tackling congestion. While this may seem largely semantic, it is of particular significance for rural areas. Here, traffic intrusion is often a problem, but congestion seldom is. There are numerous rural villages plagued by rising traffic levels and speeding, but which will not be seen as a problem under the new focus on congestion and they risk missing out from the investment provided by the 10 Year Plan.

  45.  There is a need to develop a more sophisticated approach to rural transport policy than that reflected in the 10 Year Plan, which can be characterised as "more buses and bypasses". As demonstrated by Dr David Gray's report for CFIT (Rural Transport, August 2001), rural areas are heterogeneous—with some suffering the same traffic problems as urban areas, while others face problems of remoteness—and demand investment in complex packages of measures. Furthermore the Government's Rural White Paper, Our Countryside: the future (November 2000) recommends that all policies should be "rural proofed" so as to consider the specific, and differing needs in, and within, rural areas.

  46.  It is important that the 10 Year Plan addresses the accessibility needs of rural communities. In announcing the development of the 10 Year Plan, the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Prescott MP described integrated transport as including, "bringing services to people more often, rather than forcing people always to go and find the services" . . .CPRE endorses this approach, which was developed in the Government's Rural White Paper and the Rural Services Standard. The linkage between this and Transport 2010 is far from clear, however, and requires close working with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to be effective. In particular, the 10 Year Plan should adopt a more flexible approach which sees a variety of capital and revenue funding streams as being important for improving accessibility, without the necessity of new infrastructure.

  47.  CPRE believes that the Plan should be revised to emphasise the need both to control traffic growth and to tackle congestion. This demands political support at the highest level for measures to manage demand for car use as well as investment in a wide range of solutions benefiting all areas. We hope the Committee will investigate the extent to which the review of the 10 Year Plan will also be "rural proofed", and how liaison with DEFRA will ensure that the accessibility of essential services to rural communities is improved.


  48.  The 10 Year Plan offered a much needed boost for transport investment and provided the means by which the Transport White Paper could be implemented. As we have explained here, however, CPRE is concerned by the emphasis in the Plan on large scale measures (namely big road and rail projects), together with the Government's increasing nervousness in promoting measures to encourage modal shift away from cars. As Professor Goodwin's work for CPRE shows, even after spending £180 billion and implementing the full range of measures in the Plan, travelling by car is not likely to be any less frustrating in 2010 than it is today and on motorways and in rural areas it will be worse.

  49.  In response to such criticism, the DTLR has argued that although the Plan may not make large improvements in the experience of travelling (especially by car), the situation would be much worse without such action. While CPRE accepts the logic of this to some degree, we believe that a different approach would deliver far greater returns in terms of cutting congestion and traffic. In our view, there needs to be more emphasis on smaller scale schemes to promote local access by foot and bike, complemented by traffic management, and underpinned by measures to manage demand for car travel.

  50.  As the Government undertakes its Comprehensive Spending Review, it is important that some of the assumptions underlying the 10-Year Transport Plan are questioned and the direction of implementation refocused. In our view, it is crucial to maintain a high level of investment in transport, but to direct this investment more clearly on projects which reduce the need to travel, which manage the intrusion of traffic in towns and villages and which benefit people travelling by foot and bike to the same degree as those making longer journeys by car or train.


January 2002

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