Transport for the South East (TfSE) is bidding to become a statutory body and is asking for views on its proposal. It was set up in 2017 and involves local authorities, business groups and other organisations across Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and Berkshire.
Some SCATE members have attended stakeholder workshops run by TfSE about a new regional transport strategy that they are developing and which will be out for consultation this autumn.
TfSE says: Statutory status would give us the ability to directly influence the government’s decisions on transport issues and give us the tools we need to deliver our transport strategy
SCATE believes that there is a case for a regional transport body with the relevant powers to enable positive and sustainable transport solutions to happen. However there are worrying signs in the consultation proposal that the over-riding aim is really to invest in transport that delivers economic growth. Whilst TfSE talks about investment in rail and bus networks there seems to be a focus on the expansion of aviation and damaging new roads.
The paper does acknowledge the high quality environmental and historic “assets” that we have in the region, but it does not really talk about how a new statutory body can ensure that these are protected and enhanced whilst investing in new transport infrastructure. Neither does it concern itself with health and well-being, air pollution and most importantly of all, climate change.
The government recently adopted the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a number of Local Authorities in the South East (who are members of TfSE) have passed climate emergency motions in the past few months.
Transport is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK – accounting for 27% of emissions.[i] Transport is the only sector where emissions have increased since 1990. It is the key area which is undermining efforts to tackle climate change.
At a time of climate crisis it would be a huge oversight to set up a new statutory body which has no remit or power to deliver change through policies and actions that ensure modal shift and an overall decrease in emissions from road traffic and aviation. Part of the problem is the lack of engagement with the public or other key stakeholders in the region such as from the community and voluntary sectors. We believe that there needs to be strong conditions on the approval of any new statutory body for the South East and that it needs to be inclusive and broaden the range of stakeholders it engages with.
If you have views please get them in soon. The deadline is July 31st. SCATE and some of its member groups will be putting in responses, however if our concerns are to be taken seriously we need others to amplify them. You can email responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
SCATE believes the new body should:
- Support sustainable economic prosperity, rather than growth per se which often comes with severe social and environmental impacts
- Have a duty to protect and enhance environmental and historical assets, improve health and well-being and reduce air and noise pollution.
- Demonstrate best practice in the delivery of net biodiversity gain in all infrastructure delivery
- Have a duty to invest in systems and schemes to reduce carbon emissions, in line with UK national budgets and targets and to appraise all infrastructure schemes against these
- Be fully open and transparent with regards to both the board and any sub-groups or advisory fora, all of which should be open to the public to attend, with agendas, papers and meeting minutes published as per the standards operated by local authorities
- Engage with a wider number of stakeholders, especially the community and voluntary sector who have largely been excluded to date
[i] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2018a) Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics 1990-2016. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics