By Max Clarke
Local authorities are set to receive an unprecedented £560m funding boost for sustainable transport projects to help create economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.
Full details of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund are published today in a Government white paper “Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon” which aims to encourage greater use of public transport and more walking and cycling.
Among the aims of the strategy which sets out a vision for local solutions which will have a national impact are:
* Cutting red tape for councils while cutting carbon;
* Getting quick wins locally by investing in smaller scale schemes to help create jobs; and
* Giving local people more power over initiating innovative transport schemes in their own areas to better meet local needs e.g. supporting schemes like ‘Wheels to Work’ in North Yorkshire and Devon which gives people in rural communities access to personal transport to get to work or training.
Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said:
“A good transport system is vital in our efforts to deliver two key government priorities: to help grow the economy and to reduce carbon emissions. Investment in local sustainable transport can deliver quick gains with both objectives, which is why, even in these difficult financial times, we are providing an unprecedented £560m to take this agenda forward.
"We are clear you can have your green cake and eat it. Money invested wisely in local transport initiatives can both help the economy and cut carbon. It’s a win-win for local people and for the country as a whole.
“I look forward to working with local authorities and others as we take on this challenge and believe together we can make genuinely sustainable transport a reality for everyone.”
Key measures in the White Paper include:
A £560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund to address the urgent challenges of building economic growth and tackling climate change, as well as delivering cleaner environments, improved safety and increased levels of physical activity;
A commitment to work with the transport industry to support the development of e-purses and other technology related to smart ticketing; and to deliver, with operators and public sector bodies, the infrastructure to enable most local public transport journeys to be undertaken using smart ticketing by December 2014;
Further incentivising integrated ticketing and joining up the dots to deliver easier end-to-end journeys using public transport;
A reduction in the bureaucratic burdens on local authorities by:
simplifying access to transport funding;
allowing councils to decide on road classifications without going; through central Government; and
simplifying the regulations for introducing new road signs;
Highlighting the importance of the national standard for Cycle Training and specific funding for Bikeability and the 2011/12 Cycle Journey Planner to encourage cycling.
The Government also announced today that £11m from the Fund will be spent on Bikeability — cycling proficiency for the 21st century — helping 275,000 10-11 year olds benefit from ‘on road’ cycle training. This funding will support a specific objective of the white paper to increase the number of people who use cycling as a mode of transport.
The Local Sustainable Transport Fund is now one of just four grant streams for local transport funding. This is part of the radical simplification and reform of local transport funding to support the localism agenda, reducing the number of funding streams from nearly 30 to just four.