Transport East's 30-year strategy needs more focus on sustainable transport, say Suffolk Green councillors
An ambitious 30-year strategy for transport across the East of England does not address sustainable travel enough, according to Suffolk Green councillors.
A public consultation is currently under way on Transport East’s strategy up to 2050 which features more than 50 future projects to improve the roads, rail lines, airports and ports across the region.
Project bosses say the plan revolves around a series of priorities – achieving net zero carbon, connecting towns and cities, energising rural and coastal communities and unlocking international gateways.
But councillors from Suffolk County Council’s opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group say it needs more focus on sustainable transport.
Group leader Andrew Stringer said: “Transport East’s vision of a thriving economy and sustainable growth is misplaced. There is not enough emphasis on public and active transport.
“The second that transportation becomes a main artery of Suffolk’s economy and growth, environmental pledges are null and void.
“Transport East need to start prioritising a public transport-focused approach; developing infrastructure that is reliable, low-carbon, and rapidly drives towards a sustainable future for our children.”
The group has also raised questions over whether some measures like road improvements will encourage more vehicle use, while net zero carbon spokesperson Annette Dunning said 'it fails to recognise the effect overdevelopment has on diminishing a local community’s character, and fails to understand the long-term benefits of promoting active, clean travel'.
The plan covers Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, identifying six key corridors, including Suffolk connecting to the Midlands via the A14, and Suffolk to London.
A meeting of Suffolk Public Sector Leaders in November heard that its ambitions included a reduction in carbon intensive trips – particularly shorter distance journeys which can be walked or cycled – 100% electrification of rail routes to and from ports, shifting more freight to rail and utilising more sustainable fuels.
The consultation closes on Sunday, January 30, with people encouraged to get their thoughts in to help inform the strategy.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, chair of Transport East and leader of Essex County Council, said: “Our vision is of a thriving economy for the east, with fast, safe, reliable, and resilient transport infrastructure driving forward a future of inclusive and sustainable growth for decades to come.
“Transport plays a vital part in our day-to-day lives and our ambitious new strategy sets out how we are going to respond to the challenges we face and achieve our vision over the next 30 years.
“Improvements to our transport networks are going to be vital in tackling carbon emissions, levelling up the region and fulfilling our potential as a region.”
To view the plans and submit a representation to the consultation, visit www.transporteast.org.uk/public-consultation.