Members of the South East Essex Friends of the Earth Local Group have submitted individual responses to the questionnaire on Essex County Council’s website and our member Jon Fuller attended the consultation event in Chelmsford on 2nd February. However, we thought it would be useful to outline our position in this email.
- Above all, the Local Transport Plan should take account of Climate Change and Peak Oil.
It is vital that Essex’s infrastructure is prepared to cope with the rising price of oil and the dramatic reductions in climate change gas emissions (we must remember that it’s not just CO2) that are required by the Climate Change Act. In order to be on target, the UK needs to have cut CO2 emissions by 42% by 2020 (see the report “Pathways to 40% Carbon Reductions by 2020” at http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/pathways_to_40_percent_report.pdf). The reduction in fossil fuel use that will enable this reduction will also by definition put the county in good stead for dealing with peak oil. All other areas of ECC’s policy should also work to reduce reliance on fossil fuels with the ultimate aim of eliminating them altogether.
- ECC must realise that continuing economic growth is not only damaging but impossible.
We live on a finite planet of finite resources and therefore constant growth is simply not possible. Building more roads and widening the existing ones does not solve traffic problems, it makes them worse. Widening roads and altering junctions for the port at Shell Haven will not help. Instead, freight should be moved onto the rail network, relieving our roads of thousands of HGVs and reducing transport costs. The current junction alterations being made at the Sadler’s Farm junction will not help in the medium to long term. Instead, we should be improving rail services and investigating inter-town coach services such as those proposed in George Monbiot’s “Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning” (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heat-How-Stop-Planet-Burning/dp/0141026626/)
- Investment must be concentrated on a county-wide switch from private cars to public transport, walking and cycling
This will reduce congestion, pollution, CO2 emissions, improve health and prepare the county for the inevitable low-carbon future. Cuba can be viewed as something of a model for this, having had its own hastened peak oil crisis forced onto it by the collapse of the USSR. The more preparation is done now, the less painful the transition will be later on.