Friday, November 8, 2013

How Can the Law be used to Curb Traffic on Roads that Cause Congestion and Air Pollution?

Legal warning over pollution impact of roads(Campaign for Better Transport, Oct. 18, 2013)

Also discussed here: Environmental Statement Volume 1 (288 page pdf, A556 Project Team, Highways Agency & Jacobs, Mar. 2013)

And here: A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme – consultation response(16 page pdf, Campaign for Better Transport, Oct. 16, 2013)

And here: A14 upgrade 'may push air pollution past legal limits'(Chris Havergal, Cambridgenews, Oct. 16, 2013)

Today we review efforts by a group in England to convince the highway authority to find other ways to reduce congestion than by widening roads which it claims would only lead to more congestion and health impacts from air pollution- which was confirmed by the Highway Authority in an Environmental Statement. What is interesting about this is the mechanism that allows citizens to raise concerns in a substantive and legal way on a specific project and, surprisingly (to a Canadian in Ottawa with similar concerns about roads and air pollution) get results. Worth noting too is that the UK, as one of a few countries in the world with comprehensive road side monitoring of air pollution in urban areas, provides data that can put a limit on traffic-related air pollution  (TRAP).

 roads and the law  

Key Quotes:

“objections to the South Bristol Link, the A556 Knutsford to Bowden scheme in Cheshire and the A14 in Cambridgeshire, provided evidence for an inquiry in parliament on the strategic road network”

“Three of these proposed schemes will put new carriageways through greenfield land around cities and two new river crossings for traffic are proposed for East London. Far from easing the pressure on city streets, these plans will (like all new road building) stimulate new car trips and traffic across a wide area, filling up already busy roads with yet more cars and pollution.”

“In Bristol, where the Mayor has a range of policies to reduce traffic problems in the city centre, we point out that building the South Bristol Link to encourage more car trips will undermine these local policies and be a highly counterproductive use of public money. “

"The scheme would attract more traffic than the existing A556, and would change traffic flows on other roads in the wider surrounding area. Air pollution at some properties near the new road and on the strategic route from the M6 south of the scheme into Manchester (via the M56) would increase to concentrations above the air quality thresholds as result of this scheme. The expected overall effects of the scheme on air quality are classified as significant adverse." (Highways Agency Environmental Statement, March 2013)

“The Government’s plans for the A14 will seriously worsen air pollution for people living along the route and risks breaching legal limits, whilst only providing a temporary improvement in congestion. It would be far more cost effective and sensible to look at ways of reducing traffic levels to help solve congestion more permanently and sustainably without breaking the law and damaging public health.”
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