Speech

Sustainable travel, sustainable economic growth

Discusses the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Local Growth Fund, Local Enterprise Partnerships and future plans for sustainable travel

I am delighted to be here today (4 December 2013).

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Landor Links for organising the conference, Atkins and Sustrans for sponsoring it, and Transport for Greater Manchester for hosting us.

We’re now over half way through the current round of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund programme.

This conference is perfectly timed to take stock of what’s been achieved and what we’ve learnt so far.

Before our discussion, I’ll just say a few words about why I believe investment in local sustainable transport is essential.

Why it is necessary for sustainable economic growth and why it is good value for money.

I also know many of you are keen to hear more about our plans for the single Local Growth Fund.

So I will set out some further details and I welcome any questions you may have.

There are five million more people living in the UK today than 20 years ago.

The UK transport system now supports 61 billion journeys a year.

But our transport network is already overcrowded. Congestion is estimated to cost around £22 billion every year.

We know that this acting as a break on the growth of the economy - particularly in the north of England.

At the same time, we must tackle climate change.

The total energy consumed by transport in the UK almost doubled between 1970 and the early 2000s.

And transport now accounts for around a fifth of our carbon emissions.

That means we need to decarbonise transport.

We have to address both these issues to return to sustainable economic growth.

That’s why we are investing record amounts in our transport infrastructure.

For example, we are committing around half a billion pounds to the ‘northern hub’ programme.

It will increase rail capacity across the north and improve vital links with the Midlands.

The Northern Hub will add around £4 billion to the economy and help support 20,000 to 30,000 new jobs.

But it is not just the major infrastructure programmes that are needed.

It is essential we invest in sustainable local transport too.

Two-thirds of all trips are less than 5 miles yet about half of these trips are done by car.

And 89 percent of delays are caused by congestion in urban areas.

So there are real opportunities from providing convenient and reliable alternatives to the car.

We also know local sustainable transport projects are good value for money.

The evidence shows that projects can deliver £5 of benefit for every £1 spent.

When combined with your drive and enthusiasm, comparatively small sums can make a significant difference.

Take just a few examples of what can be achieved.

Here in Manchester there is the ‘Let’s Go to Work’ project.

It has brought improved walking and cycling access to stations, public transport hubs and local centres.

That has made active transport an option for many thousands more people.

There’s also the new ‘bus-rail interchange’ in Lowestoft.

It has transformed access for pedestrians, cyclists and buses.

And has been particularly helpful for those who have reduced mobility.

Later today (4 December 2013) I will be starting the engineering works at Tinsley Viaduct.

Once complete it will provide a new link under the M1.

The link will enable the new Bus Rapid Transit scheme to connect the employment opportunities created by the Enterprise Zone with people living in Rotherham and Sheffield.

I can also announce today (4 December 2013) that we will provide £5 million of new funding required for the rail replacement works for the Sheffield Super Tram.

These examples show that local knowledge, combined with modest investment, can unlock significant wider benefits.

That’s why local sustainable transport needs to be on the agenda when local leaders decide the priorities for their community.

You’ve just heard from Mike about the work of local enterprise partnerships.

They are the forum through which the government expects local areas to agree the solutions to the challenges facing their communities.

The Local Growth Fund will be at the heart of that process.

Local areas are currently working on their strategic economic plans.

These will shape the allocation of the £6 billion that we are investing through Local Growth Deals from 2015 until 2021.

This includes the £100 million of capital available for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund in 2015 to 2016.

So far we’ve seen a huge amount of energy and commitment to the projects that have been supported by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

These have resulted in significant benefits for local communities and are good value for the taxpayer.

I will be watching to ensure Local Economic Partnerships bear this in mind and reflect it in the strategic economic plans they will be submitting in December.

I can also confirm today that the department will be publishing guidance for revenue funding bids for the 2015 to 2016 Local Sustainable Transport fund in December.

Every local transport authority will be eligible to apply.

If you were unsuccessful in previous rounds, you will have another chance.

I would urge you to seize it.

So in conclusion, no-one should doubt our commitment to supporting and expanding local sustainable transport.

It reduces carbon emissions and is a driver for economic growth. And, in many cases, it saves people money.

It is central to getting the best out of the long-term significant investment we are making - including HS2.

That’s why we want local sustainable transport to be an essential part of planning for local growth.

I know you’ve been waiting for the door-to-door action plan to be published; I can confirm that this will happen before the end of the year.

It will set out the progress we are making to ensure it easier and more convenient for people to use greener transport.

I look forward to working with you over the coming months to make that happen.

Thank you.