Making the case for better transport policy
Throughout 2008/9 Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) worked closely with a number of local campaign groups, each at a different stage of scheme appraisal. CBT supported the White Horse Alliance, the Hastings Alliance, the Offord A14 Action Group and many others as they opposed government transport schemes. CBT mobilised hundreds of letters opposing the M25 widening, the Hastings-Bexhill Link Road, Titnore Lane and many other road schemes.
Highways Agency abandons Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass inquiry
In March 2009 the Highways Agency withdrew plans to build the Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass. This was a great win for the local groups Save Swallows Wood and Friends of the Peak District, whom CBT have supported for several years. CBT’s roads and climate campaigner repeatedly raised this issue with the Highways Agency, and their Executive Director brokered a meeting between Geoff Hoon and local opponents to discuss serious alternatives to the bypass, which led to the Secretary of State ordering a comprehensive examination of the local group’s preferred option: a lorry ban through the Peak District.
Showing councils that road-building isn’t the best option
Following CBT’s successful work on alternatives to the Wing Bypass, they continued to collaborate with councils in the East of England, helping Bedfordshire County Council to properly examine alternatives to the Luton Northern Bypass. Bedfordshire subsequently commissioned more detailed alternatives research which CBT are hopeful will be a precursor to finally cancelling the scheme altogether.
Motorway widening dropped
In January 2009 the UK government made a firm commitment to scrap most plans to widen hundred of miles of the M1, M25, M62 and M6 and instead, to run cars on the hard shoulder. This change has saved 100,000 tonnes of C02 – and over £7 billion.
This victory was the culmination of a multi-pronged campaign by CBT who proved to the government that people think money would be better spent in other ways. The government ran a trial on the M42 of cars using the hard shoulder, with all lanes of traffic running at 50 mph. The results showed reduced C02 and air pollution and increased safety – at 20-40% of the cost of full motorway widening. Hard-shoulder running is not an unqualified success. It doesn’t tackle the problem of increasing traffic and if the cars aren’t run at 50mph the C02 savings are greatly reduced – but it’s much better than widening roads.
Influencing regional plans
CBT have also focused on influencing regional transport funding priorities. Regions pull together a list of transport schemes for the next 10 years for which they’d like funding, and the government responds by agreeing to fund some or all of these schemes. CBT worked to influence the lists the regions submitted – supporting campaigners engaged in regional decision-making forums, contacting local authorities and making the case for non-road alternatives. The lists were submitted in February 2009 and CBT’s efforts are now going into influencing how the government responds to the lists.