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Urgent steps needed to encourage more people to use public transport, Suffolk County Council's opposition groups says following latest IPCC report on climate change




Urgent action is needed to make on-the-ground changes that will encourage people to switch to public or sustainable transport, Suffolk County Council's opposition group has said.

The Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group at the authority has called on the Conservative administration to up its efforts following the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest report.

The opposition group has said that as the county's transport authority, swift changes can be made by the council but efforts were not happening quickly enough.

A temporary bike store on Ipswich Waterfront - one of 200 introduced across Suffolk during Covid-19. Picture: Jason Noble/LDRS
A temporary bike store on Ipswich Waterfront - one of 200 introduced across Suffolk during Covid-19. Picture: Jason Noble/LDRS

Annette Dunning, opposition group spokeswoman for climate, said: "As we hear dire warnings from the IPCC it is incumbent on Suffolk County Council to lead by example, not by excuses, and bring forward our plans already drafted to reduce carbon emissions from all sources in Suffolk.

"The Suffolk Climate Partnership has already listed priority actions it wants the politicians to take having had consultations with local businesses and organisations.

"As the transport authority Suffolk is well placed to take urgent steps to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport, walking or cycling.

"But we have seen precious little campaigning or action on the ground and changes are urgently needed.

"There has been little promotion of car sharing, for example, and there have been only small attempts to make it easier to walk and cycle, even in our county town Ipswich, despite the well documented health benefits."

Cllr Dunning said that early discussions in 2019 for a parking levy in Ipswich could have generated £1.3million per year to be spent on sustainable transport, although the Conservative administration said that it was ruled out as it would not get the political support needed.

She added that the gas-fired power station approved at Eye Airfield should also have been opposed by the authority.

The IPCC outlined a series of concerns in the global climate in its report published earlier this month, including fears of a 1.5C temperature rise within the next two decades, as well as problems like increased flooding and more intense drought.

Conservative cabinet member for the environment and deputy leader of the authority, Richard Rout, said: "The recent IPCC report was indeed a reality check for everyone, but galvanises my desire for Suffolk to achieve its ambitious target of being net zero by 2030.

Richard Rout, Conservative cabinet member for finance and the environment and deputy leader of Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council/Simon Lee Photography
Richard Rout, Conservative cabinet member for finance and the environment and deputy leader of Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council/Simon Lee Photography

“The recently published Suffolk Climate Emergency Plan outlines that the county council is wholly committed, along with all Suffolk’s authorities, to addressing low carbon transport and has specific goals and actions to achieve this.

"Indeed, the county council’s efforts and commitment to active travel have been praised by the Department for Transport.

“Just recently we have been extremely busy on the ground, for example our successful campaign with schools - Let’s Make A Change For The Future - to encourage more people to choose to walk and cycle for shorter journeys and consider public transport for longer journeys."

Cllr Rout said other measures were underway, including road layout improvements under the Active Travel scheme to make it easier to cycle or walk, free family cycling sessions, increased cycle parking and changes at signals to reduce the impact of air pollution on people's health at junctions.

The county's Climate Emergency Plan was approved in July by all of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group, with each of the authorities also having declared climate emergencies that feature pledges to become carbon neutral by 2030.

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