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Towards zero carbon travel – Sustainable transport in Oxfordshire

Oxford Friends of the Earth is a thriving and effective local group that has been active for over 40 years. Our purpose is to work together to promote a healthy and sustainable environment

Transport is the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for about a third of our total carbon output. It is the only sector to have made no meaningful contribution to emission reductions to date. Almost two thirds of road transport emissions are from cars. Breathing motor traffic pollution leads to the premature deaths of around 8,400 people every year in the UK, and is linked to one in five childhood asthma cases.

OxFoE’s work includes:

  • Action towards a sustainable transport policy for Oxfordshire
  • Opposing the proposed Oxford – Cambridge Expressway  – in 2018 we set up the No Expressway Alliance.  For more on this see our Expressway page

Transport and planning – speak up for a clean transport system!

Oxfordshire County Council are now (May 2020) consulting on their new ‘Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP)’. It is vital that this plan puts moves to zero carbon at the centre of its’ strategy. They have developed 28 topic papers that offer a lot of detail.  However we are concerned that there is only a limited focus on the need for the plan and policies to take us rapidly towards the Zero Carbon target set by the County and the UK Government. Consultation closes on Sunday May 17th (11.59pm).  A link to the online consultation is below.

Our response is here: OxFoE Response.  Further down this page there are some simple draft points that you can use if you agree with them.

We are calling the need to tackle the climate emergency to be at the centre of transport planning for the future (see Qu 12 of the consultation)
The LTCP must set out, from the start, a clear route to delivering a zero carbon transport system as part of the UK’s legal commitment to creating a ‘Net Zero’ society. All proposed council investment on transport must be assessed and agreed on the basis that it contributes to this goal.

Our specific points are:

  1. An ambitious rail development strategy to create the space for both long distance travel and a ‘Metrorail’ system for the county. A first priority must be investment in improving rail network capacity between Didcot and Oxford.
  2. Bus travel to be free for under 30s (as it is for older people). We also seek a consultation on the case for all local bus travel to be free (as it is in a growing number of cities).
  3. High quality local cycling and walking facilities – with the construction of networks of segregated cycleways in urban areas, and cycle routes connecting larger towns.
  4. A Local Transport Authority for the county as the best way to deliver an integrated system.
  5. A specific consultation on the future of rural transport in Oxfordshire.
  6. A clear strategy to reduce congestion in urban areas that may involve road pricing or congestion charges.

The points that we ask you to make are below. Your support will be important:

The information about the County Council consultation is here: https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/ltcp.engagement/consultationHome

Please respond and include some / all of  these points:

  1. Invest now in better rail services and a local ‘Metrorail’ service with new stations

A commuter focused rail service for the county with will be a key way to reduce traffic especially on the A34. This requires major investment in improving the rail network between Didcot and Oxford as a first step. Our councils and government must prioritise this.

You can raise this in response to paper 10. ‘The Rail Corridor Study’ which asks the question: If capacity and connectivity were improved, how much more could you use the rail network in Oxfordshire? Please respond and include this point:

Anyone who travels in the north-south Bicester – Oxford – Didcot corridor (along the A34) could use the rail system much more if we have a frequent commuter ‘metro-rail’ service. Capacity and connectivity must be improved and the County must push for national investment in this.

 

  1.  An improved and coordinated county-wide bus service

Paper 7 on ‘Bus Strategy’: asks ‘Could you do more of your journeys by bus if something changed? If so, what?’ Please respond to this and include these points (if you agree!):

Bus travel can be speeded up by measures to cut delays by cutting congestion. New traffic management schemes will help provide better bus services.

We need an Oxfordshire Transport Authority for the county (similar to Transport for London) as the best way to deliver an integrated system which provides good access to all major settlements in the county.

Bus travel should be free for under 30s (as it is for older people). We ask for consultation on the case for all local bus travel to be free (as it is in a growing number of cities across the world), paid for in part by road pricing or congestion charges.

  1.  High quality local cycling and walking facilities

There are several papers on ‘Active and Healthy Travel’. Paper 3 on ‘Local Cycling and Walking Plans’ can be one to answer. Please include:

If people are to cycle more we need proper networks of segregated cycleways in urban areas, and cycle routes connecting larger towns. These will include ‘cycle streets’ and rural ‘greenways’.

  1.  Transport and cleaner air

Transport is the major source of air pollution in the county. Paper 13 is on Air Quality – please make this point:

Electrification of our transport system is an agreed national target. We should look to see this happen as fast as possible to cut pollution in Oxfordshire. This will require rapid increases in electric charging systems. Councils and other public bodies should take a lead to ensure that all their vehicles to are zero-emission.

We hope that you can spare a few minutes to respond. The online survey is in the link above, and you can email to LTCP5@oxfordshire.gov.uk. This plan is still at an early stage and influencing  it now is critical.

If you would like to feed in to the discussions, email: climate@oxfoe.co.uk with ‘transport plan’ in the subject line.