Monday, August 06, 2007


Transport moving in the right direction

The Lib Dems have launched new transport polices to create a zero carbon transport system by 2050.The plans include a commitment to double investment in the railways by introducing a toll on road freight and a charge for internal air flights.

The plans will be debated at the autumn conference in September, which unfortunately I won't be at because it takes place about as far from my house as is possible without the addition of a passport.

The proposals potentially release £12 billion for spending on rail improvements in the next five years, and I tink they're fantastic, so it's probably a good thing I won't be able to give voice to my approval at conference and risk ruining the whole thing with the weakness of my arguments...

Proposals include:

1) Introducing a distance charge on road freight, related to weight and emissions, as an incentive to shift freight to rail, raising at least £600m a year.

2) Establishing a new 'Future Transport Fund' to fund a programme of investment on our railways; removing bottlenecks, providing more trains and reopening lines

3) Backing new North-South and East-West high-speed rail lines to the best European standards to replace internal flights

4) Toughening new legal limits on the average emissions of new cars sold in the EU, to be reinforced with a steadily declining total that reaches zero by 2040

5) Introducing a new 'Climate Change Charge' on internal flights, except life-line routes, starting at £10 per ticket to help fund the 'Future Transport Fund,' which will generate at least £150m a year

The plans mean that we'll put our money where our mouth is, and give real committments to spending money on improving public transport. No bribery and half-promises like the government's TIF bid - this is real money for real improvements.

This is radically different from Labour half-heartedness, and a world away from Tory bluster.It is a real set of solutions that will make a real difference.

The plans will shift freight from road to rail, cut carbon, and improve mobility as the rail network begins to run out of capacity. They also put the onus on technology as a way of beating our climate crisis. Cutting carbon emmissions from cars to zero by 2040 means that tomorrow's cars need to be cleaner and smarter. And the companies that make these cars will deservedly get lots richer by making them and selling lots. I think if we spur on industry to make the green agenda part of their business plans, to make the environment an economic incentive, then we will crack the climate crisis much sooner. And these policies are the right way of going about it.


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