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Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan - how does it fare on transport improvements?

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

The Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan has been released for consultation (closes March 7th). I’m sure whilst all of us welcome the hard work of the council it is still important to ask if more could be done. The council have declared a climate emergency and like any emergency this requires swift and decisive action. This blog looks at the transport section of the plan and considers if more could be done.

Transport is currently the second largest emitter of CO2 (after buildings) in the borough. Currently 31% of all emissions of CO2 are associated with transport with the vast majority of that coming from road transport. In order to meet the council’s ambitions of reducing total emission by around 70%, car trips (from diesel or petrol vehicles) need to be reduced by 45% and a significant proportion of the remaining trips need to be made by zero emission vehicles. To meet this target reduction the council have set out their plans and I was pleased to see early on the mentions of supporting sustainable transport.

However, get into the detail and we find a less ambitious set of targets which will not respond quickly enough to the infrastructure needs of the borough and still puts vehicles at the top of the agenda. This, therefore, does not address the additional issues around air quality, health, accidents and severance caused by roads and will also fail to bring about the rapid modal shift required for the carbon plan.

When reviewing the technical document provided by the councils consultants it is not until the ninth point that the promotion of walking and cycling facilities are mentioned, prior to that all measures are penalties to put people off making trips by cars with charges etc. Wouldn’t a better borough be focused on making your choice of a short trip, more appealing by bike or sustainable transport because you knew you and your children could cycle or travel safely rather than be penalised for driving? With a 45% reduction in total trips required the investment should be on facilitating the change away from personal car trips. The council’s plan currently notes they have identified very little of the funding to implement the measures which they feel will get them to the required reductions, which let’s remind ourselves is to stop a climate emergency. That doesn’t bode well, so I’d ask where the cost benefit option is for each measure?

The measures should be prioritised by effectiveness with regards to taking people out of their cars and reducing trips as well as impacts on the co-benefits mentioned above (eg air quality and health). That is after all the councils aim and I consider that the penalising measures are not hard hitting enough and the encouraging measures are not prioritised highly enough. Thus, we are left with a middle ground of some weak measures with no funding, which we have seen before in various Greenwich policy documents and action plans un-completed for years.

How could things be improved?

· Prioritisation and immediate implementation for significant investment in cycling and walking infrastructure.

· Implementation of zero emission neighbourhoods, low traffic neighbourhoods and vehicle free zones.

· Immediate review of planning requirements to ban cars from new developments and put in requirements for sustainable transport.

· Put in place serious restrictions for parking, with fewer spaces and significant charges for non-zero emission vehicles.

· Support businesses with facilities to reduce vehicle emissions, charging facilities or vehicle upgrades.

· Consideration of future transport, how can technology play a role, and plan for the creation of sustainable transport hubs.

Eltham Enviros

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