On the 15 June 2011, Norman Baker MP, Minister for Local and Regional Transport, gave a video address to the CIVINET second annual sustainable mobility convention. He explained that measures such as travel planning, car sharing and encouraging the use of public transport, along with walking and cycling have been proven to be highly effective in achieving more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport systems. Through the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, £560 million has been allocated to local authorities to support such local measures.
CIVINET - second annual sustainable mobility convention
Hello, thank you for inviting me to speak today (15 June 2011). I’m sorry I’m not here in person for the second year running, but I had already accepted an invitation to address a cycling conference today. However, my now well-used video technology has allowed me to be in 2 places at once, which is fortunate because I wanted to thank you for your work towards achieving more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport systems. This work is important and a great deal has happened since your first annual sustainable mobility conference in October last year.
As those of you who attended that event will know, I’m a strong supporter of local authorities working together to address our shared transport challenges in a way that helps local economies and reduces carbon emissions. CIVINET is an enduring example of such positive co-operation.
In January this year I was delighted to launch our new local transport white paper. This sets out how the government will deliver on its commitment to support sustainable travel. I’m sure some of you will have noticed the complimentary mention in the white paper of CIVINET’s efforts as an example for other local authorities to follow.
Around half of all car journey’s are between 1 and 5 miles, and 2 out of 3 of all the trips we make are under 5 miles - as such, these represent the biggest opportunity for sustainable travel options such as walking, cycling or public transport. The government believes it is local authorities who know their communities best. As such, they are far better equipped to make the changes needed to encourage sustainable travel locally. And this is why the white paper puts localism firmly at the heart of the agenda to create growth and cut carbon by focussing on encouraging and enabling people to make sustainable travel choices.
Measures such as travel planning, car sharing, car clubs, and encouraging the use of public transport, along with walking and cycling have been proven, through initiatives such as the sustainable travel towns and CIVITAS projects, to be highly effective. They are often cheap, and demonstrate high value for money.
As you may know, an unprecedented £560 million has been allocated to local authorities through our new Local Sustainable Transport Fund to support such local measures.
Despite the difficult economic background, this is a significant increase in funding for this area and reflects the commitment of the government to this area as well as the good value for money such investment requires.
The purpose of the fund, which was announced alongside the white paper, is to enable the delivery of solutions that support economic growth while reducing carbon. These solutions will be geared to supporting jobs and business by effectively tackling the problems of congestion, the reliability and predictability of journey times, as well as enabling economic investment, the revitalisation of town centres and enhanced access to employment.
At the same time, they should enable changing patterns of travel behaviour and greater use of more sustainable transport modes and so deliver a reduction in carbon and other harmful emissions.
The Local Sustainable Transport Fund forms part of a wider picture of more streamlined and simplified funding to local authorities. Transport funding streams have been radically simplified - down from 26 to just 4. The fund also represents a move away from specific grants, so providing local authorities with the freedom to develop their own targeted transport packages that address the particular transport problems in their area. And in addressing those problems, it’s been important for local authorities to work with the local community, for example local businesses as well as with the voluntary, community the social enterprise sector.
In April, we received 73 tranche 1 and key component bids from 66 authorities, and I will be announcing the successful bids later this month. The department has also received a further 41 expressions of interest for tranche 2. We’re currently assessing 19 initial proposals for large projects, and I intend to announce the shortlisted authorities in July. In all, having received applications from 96 transport authorities, I’ve been delighted with such a positive response.
As the first ever transport minister to have official responsibilities for alternatives to travel, I often point out that the most sustainable mode of transport is not travelling at all. My mission of course, isn’t to stop people travelling, but I’d certainly like everyone to give greater consideration to whether their journeys are really necessary in the first place.
There are several measures that can contribute towards greater business efficiency for example. Encouraging home working; the use of high-speed broadband and the uptake of video conferencing - all can provide viable alternatives to long-distance travel and not only reduce carbon, but business costs too. And I know many employees would welcome the introduction of staggered working days as means to avoid peak travelling times, instead going to work when roads, buses and trains are less congested - while employers may welcome the greater pool of employees for which they can draw, as well as the reduction in overheads.
Encouraging sustainable transport in order to create growth and cut carbon is fundamental to my department’s ambitions for our future transport system. And let’s not forget there are further benefits. Currently, the costs to society of physical inactivity, poor air quality and noise are up to £25 billion per year. In contrast, investment in sustainable transport helps make our towns and cities healthier and more attractive places to live, work and shop.
To sum up, I am very encouraged by the quality of the bids we’ve received so far through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and look forward to seeing how our objectives will be achieved through the implementation of successful proposals.
My apologies again for not being able to be with you in person, but I’m sure your day will be productive and engaging one. And thank you for watching.