Ambition needed on transport and air quality

I spent Bank Holiday Sunday reading Surrey County Council’s new draft strategies for electric vehicles and for addressing the air quality and climate impacts of transport.

What do they all say? Here’s a quick summary of the new strategies, together with a few of the points I submitted in response to the consultation.

The Electric Vehicle strategy says it aims to be a ‘direction of travel’ for more electric vehicle charging points in Surrey, but half-way through admits that Surrey County Council currently has zero budget to implement it. So it can’t really be called a strategy yet.

The Low Emission Vehicle Strategy combines and updates Surrey’s air quality and climate change transport policies. It starts by clearly stating where Surrey is: there are 26 areas where Surrey breaches EU emission limits for air quality (these are called Air Quality Management Areas, the biggest is the whole of Spelthorne borough). And Surrey’s CO2 emissions from transport are currently increasing.

Even if Surrey did everything that’s in the plan, it wouldn’t be sufficient to address either problem.

In my responses, I set out suggestions for things that should be included in the final versions of these strategies:

 

The Electric Vehicle Strategy should:

  • have a robust set of targets, including for the number of electric vehicle charging points, with a plan for full coverage across Surrey by 2030 at the latest
  • include e-bikes as well as cars and buses, and set out plans to charge bikes and cars from street lamps across Surrey
  • plan to generate renewable energy across Surrey so that the electricity sold through street lamps – and in council, school and hospital car parks – is carbon neutral
  • include encouraging others to sign-up to the strategy so it can be delivered at scale
  • commit that its planning guidance should be adopted as planning policy
  • be backed up with a budget and a delivery plan.

 

The Low Emissions Strategy should:

  • have clear plans to eliminate every single Air Quality Management Area, so Surrey has no areas which fail to meet air quality limits
  • set annual targets for carbon emission reductions for transport in Surrey and set a plan that aims for Surrey’s transport to be zero carbon by 2030
  • include electrification of the Gatwick to Reading ‘North Downs’ rail line.
  • be linked to investment strategies for Surrey’s two Local Enterprise Partnerships, so Surrey does not continue to invest in schemes that make both air quality and climate change worse
  • speak out on the impact of Heathrow expansion, and aviation in general. A third runway at Heathrow will increase air pollution directly (from aircraft and airside surface transport) and indirectly (due to increased freight, employee and passenger transport) both around the airport and on transport routes to it. It will also increase surface transport demand, risking further rises in transport’s carbon emissions.

Read more:

Consultation documents

Response to the Electric Vehicles Strategy

Response to the Low Emission Transport Strategy

 

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