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Government vows to decarbonise transport

Words: Laura Edgar
Green transport / Shutterstock_84044614

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has published a transport decarbonisation plan that seeks to make communities healthier and create green jobs.

The plan has been published ahead of the COP26 climate summit being held in Glasgow in November.

According to the government, “the world-leading” plan sets out “a credible pathway” for the whole transport sector to reach net-zero by 2050.

The intention is for cleaner transport to create and support “highly skilled” jobs, with the production of zero-emission road vehicles alone potentially able to support “tens of thousands” of jobs worth “up to £9.7 billion GVA in 2050”.

Decarbonising Transport: A Better, Greener Britain sets out how the government will improve public transport and increase support for active travel; create a net-zero rail network by 2050; and ensure net-zero domestic aviation emissions by 2040. The government is aiming to make sure that half of all journeys in towns and cities will be cycled or walked by 2030 and is looking at the 20-minute neighbourhood concept.

The report states that the planning system has “an important role to play in encouraging development that promotes a shift towards sustainable transport networks and the achievement of net-zero transport systems”.

Shapps said: “Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good or for bad. Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.

“It’s not about stopping people doing things; it’s about doing the same things differently. We will still fly on holiday, but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive, but increasingly in zero-emission cars.

“The transport decarbonisation plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities as we build back greener.”

The government also intends to phase out sales of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, subject to consultation.

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills welcomed in particular “the government’s recognition that the planning system has an important role to play in creating developments that promote a shift towards sustainable transport networks”.

“Our research published earlier this year stressed that developments and transport planning must work closely together to plan, design and deliver new developments with the aim of delivering ‘carbon negative growth’. New developments should feature net-zero transport from the start whilst also contributing to a wider reduction in emissions through the encouragement of reduced travel demand and the incorporation of alternative and greener methods of travel.

“It is also encouraging to see discussions are taking place to explore how the planning system can be designed to facilitate better collaboration and planning for growth across local authority boundaries. The RTPI has previously called for Green Growth Boards to deliver joined-up strategies on transport as well as other key issues such as economic growth, climate action and nature recovery.”

The institute is, however, concerned that “too much emphasis is being put on ‘doing the same things differently’”.

Hills said that the aim must instead be for an “even more radical transformation of how we plan, design and use space and how we live and move around if we are to reduce the need to travel and encourage people to shift from private vehicles to more active, public and shared modes of transport”.

Decarbonising Transport: A Better, Greener Britain can be found here on the UK Government website.

Image credit | Shutterstock