A new regional transport strategy for the South West has been outlined by Peninsula Transport in a vision document which it says sets the overall direction and principles of a plan “to transform transport within the region over the next thirty years”.
Peninsula Transport, a consortium formed in 2018 by the five South West transport authorities and advised by representatives of transport operators and business, passenger and road user groups, is inviting comments on its strategic vision from residents, businesses and visitors to the region.
Emphasising the consortium’s focus on the economy, Councillor Andrea Davis, who is Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport as well as Chair of Peninsula Transport, said: “The key challenge for the peninsula is to strengthen strategic links to keep pace with the rest of the UK, reinforcing connectivity and maximising opportunities to boost productivity.”
She also said: “With climate change and decarbonisation at the forefront of our agenda, it’s important that transport is fit for the future.”
However, while one of the goals listed in the document is “to deliver a net-zero carbon transport system”, it says this is to be achieved by “promoting walking and cycling”, “making the case for improvements to public transport”, relying on “better digital services” to enable people to work from home and aiming to deliver a “private and commercial” electric vehicle charging network.
The document also identifies investment in the region’s roads as a priority.
Mike Walton, chair of Exeter Cycling Campaign, said that rather than strengthening transport links in and out of the peninsula “the key challenge is to work out how we are going to decarbonise transport whilst keeping business and tourism alive.”
He added: “Until our transport strategies commit to things like congestion charging, road-use charging, investing in safe walking and cycling routes, low emission zones and public transport investment then we’re not going to make the change we need.”
The vision document includes statistics which emphasise the region’s high car dependency rate. 90% of all journeys to work are made by car despite half the region’s workers travelling less than seven miles to work.
The South West also has the highest private transport mileage per person and the second highest rate of private car ownership in the country.
Other challenges are identified in a technical report cited in the document, which found that even if the Department for Transport’s “Acceleration to net zero emissions scenario” were achieved, South West road transport would still emit nearly a million tonnes of CO2e each year in 2050.
It also found that “decarbonisation of vehicle fleets in the peninsula may lag behind the average, as historically older vehicles have been cascaded into the peninsula from other locations”.
The report acknowledged that, while “encouraging people to use more sustainable modes has been one of the main aims of transport planning over the past twenty years”, this policy has been largely unsuccessful, it said “perhaps because of the affordability and convenience of car travel compared to other modes”.
Peninsula Transport is inviting feedback on its strategic vision until this Friday, 17 September. It says responses will be used to inform the development of a detailed transport strategy which it expects to publish next year.
However, the feedback survey consists of just three questions about the vision. It invites respondents to indicate to what extent they support or oppose a list of the five goals set out in the document as well as a single sentence top-level statement, with additional comments limited to 100 words.
It then asks respondents to comment on transport challenges, opportunities and priorities for the region over the next 30 years in no more than 250 words.