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Planners integral to decarbonising transport, says minister

Words: Simon Wicks

The government’s forthcoming 'Transport Decarbonisation Plan' will give planners a blueprint for ‘cleaning up everything from cars to container ships’ in supporting the nationwide transition to a zero-carbon transport system.

The plan, due by the end of the year, will build on the six strategic priorities already outlined in the Decarbonising Transport paper (pdf) published in March 2020, under-secretary of state for transport Rachel MacLean MP told the Transport Planning Society’s Transport Planning Day conference today (16 November).

Coronavirus, she said, had “changed the world immeasurably”, altering how much we travel and how we get around. As such it had also given us a “unique opportunity to change people’s travel habits”. 

She said: “Transport and how we run our systems is fundamental to the process of building back greener and better. It connects people to work, communities and each other.”

Change had already begin, MacLean reported, with the distribution of an initial £42 million to councils to implement emergency changes to their transport infrastructure to create more space for walking and cycling. A further £183m was still available to fund longer-term changes which would convert higher temporary levels of cycling and walking into permanent habits.

“All of this great work needs to form a coherent whole if we’re to really tackle emissions from transport.” The Transport Decarbonisation Plan due by end of year, she continued, would build on the six strategic priorities outlined in Decarbonising Transport, “cleaning up everything from cars to container ships”.

Government, she said, had already provided 18,000 public charging devices for electric vehicles and had brought forward plans to ban petrol and diesel vehicles from Britain’s roads. It had also introduced a plan to install at least six rapid charging points in motorway service area by 2023.

Planners, argued MacLean, are integral to the ambition of building a greener transport system. “The way that transport is planned and delivered has a profound impact on the way that people live their lives and on the way that we can decarbonise transport."

She concluded: “We have a history in our nation of driving change through our transport system.”

Read more from the Transport Planning Society conference:

Planners must step out of their 'bubbles' to advocate sustainable transport change

Image credit | iStock