We all listened in to the UN COP26 talks in Glasgow focusing on global issues, but we find ourselves facing local issues as well. As Friends of the Earth have always said – “think globally, act locally”.
There are a number of road schemes in the planning, consultation or delivery phase, all of which will lead to ecological damage and increased traffic flows – in other words, they will work against the climate and ecological emergencies and stand in the way of a low or zero carbon transport system for the future.
The phrase “build it and they will come” applies to all transport schemes. If we build infrastructure for cars, our roads will fill with cars. If we build infrastructure for buses, for pedestrians and for cyclists, then our roads will fill with people! We cannot expect people to leave their car at home until we provide a better alternative.
To work towards the better alternative (and on the way, work against the “cars before people” paradigm) we have started a “Just Transport Group”. If you would like to join us, use this “Get involved” link and make sure you mention the Just Transport Group in your message.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA): a group of transport campaigners across the region are campaigning for all WYCA road schemes to be paused and re-assessed against WYCA’s own Carbon Emissions Reduction Pathways work (CERPs). You can send a letter to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Committee using the QR code below.
This includes a scheme in Wakefield, to re-design the A650/Newton Bar roundabout, destroying at least 107 mature trees and the habitats that surround them.
We have written to both Wakefield Cabinet and WYCA demanding that this scheme be cancelled, as have Wakefield Friends of the Earth. You can read our letters here, here and here.
The point about the Newton Bar scheme is that it should already have been assessed against the CERPS criteria, and it is scheduled to start in January. This is THE opportunity for both WYCA and Wakefield Council to stop, to reset, and to start on a new path where all policies and strategies are fully integrated into their climate change action plans. How can WYCA or Wakefield deliver zero carbon, or even net zero across the region and the district by 2038 if they allow historic schemes to continue even when it is clear that they will lead to increased emissions?
Highways England: Highways England have launched a consultation to do even more work on the M1/M62 Lofthouse Interchange, in a desperate attempt to get cars moving more quickly through the junction. They fail to realise the obvious that it is the traffic levels on the motorway causing the congestion, not the design of the junction. The consultation closes on December 10th and can be visited here. We, along with other transport campaign groups, will be making full submissions. We will share key points so that anyone else can make their own representations.
Finally, you can download our Transport Leaflet here.
Better Buses for West Yorkshire
Just Transition Wakefield, along with similar groups around the region, fully supports the TUC Better Buses for West Yorkshire Campaign.
If we are to deliver zero carbon transport, we need clean, efficient, affordable public transport to make sure that everyone has the freedom to travel. This is to complement improved rail, the possibility of a West Yorkshire mass transit system and of course a huge increase in active travel (aka cycling and walking).
We are not against electric cars – but we recognise that exchanging every petrol and diesel car for an electric one is not currently feasible or even desirable!
Now that the Manchester Metropolitan Mayor has taken control of bus services, we are looking forward to working with the new West Yorkshire Mayor to deliver the same transport integration for West Yorkshire. We welcome the steps that the Mayor has already taken in this direction but ask for more.
We expect to be looking at the district-wide plans for cycle and pedestrian commuting in the near future. Watch this space and contact us to get involved.
Leeds Bradford Airport
Just Transition Wakefield has worked with campaigners across the region, in particular GALBA, to block the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. We spoke at the Leeds City Council Planning Committee hearing, and have written to both Robert Jenrick and to Leeds Planners.
We have been partially successful, in that Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has blocked approval, pending his personal decision.
The government have reviewed the Sixth Carbon Budget from the UK Committee on Climate Change, and declared a new target of a 78% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions by 2035. This is to include international air travel and shipping, which is a significant step forward – we now wait to see if policy decisions align with the target.
Why do we want to block the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport?
- Flying is a major contributor to climate change through both carbon dioxide emissions and the high altitude impact of pollutants;
- Most flights are taken by a minority of people – 52% of the UK public do not fly at all, and only 15% take 70% of UK flights;
- Since the coronavirus pandemic, business travel has reduced and seems unlikely to go back to pre-covid levels as online meetings have become normalized;
- Investing in the green economy and climate jobs will bring greater economic benefit to West Yorkshire than investing in obsolete fossil fuel based industries;
- There are no zero carbon options for flying – but they may be on the horizon. This is why we are currently satisfied with a policy of no expansion of airports and no increase in numbers of flights. This position may change as climate impacts increase and if government action does not accelerate.
- Modern families are dispersed across the world and must be able to see each other, and there must be fair access to international travel – not just for the wealthy. We need to industry to urgently decarbonise for these flights to remain possible beyond 2030.
If you would like to get involved in our new and growing network, please contact us.