The road out of the country’s economic difficulties is through investment in modern, green technology, the sustainable transport minister has said.
As one of the biggest growth sectors at this particular time, Norman Baker said creating growth and cutting carbon are the two objectives of the Department of Transport (DfT) when creating policy.
Baker was speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Transport Dialogue report, “The Green Routes of Growth: Sustainable transport and the economy”.
The report outlines the challenges posed by consumers’ growing demand for transport and the difficulties faced in persuading them to switch to sustainable alternatives.
On low carbon vehicles, Baker said they have to be a big part of our future, because ‘a quarter of our carbon emissions come from transport’.
Responding to concern over the low take-up of low carbon vehicles, he said it is “not worrying”, and take-up of electric vehicles in the UK is on a par, if not higher than other European countries.
Baker spoke of the ‘generous incentives’ provided by the government to encourage people to buy low carbon vehicles, vans as well as cars.
Praising the motor manufactures, Baker said they have ‘embraced new technology’ and whilst the government had kick-started investment, the markets are now behind low carbon technology.
He said that much needed investment in long-term transport projects was being provided, but that there is a need to improve how long-term projects are delivered, because short-term fixes in transport ‘do not work’.
He noted the need for cross-party consensus over long-term projects, as it provides confidence to investors that such a project will be delivered over a designated period of time.
“That is the reason why High Speed Rail, in terms of the essence of it, is going to work and go ahead, because all three parties are signed up to it”, he said.
Shadow transport minister, Lilian Greenwood MP, reiterated the importance of maintaining investment in sustainable transport, despite difficult economic conditions.
“There is a clear choice before policy makers. At a time when transport budgets are being slashed there is a temptation for government to postpone major investment projects and direct spending to existing technologies.
“To my mind, that is a false choice, this report, which is backed up by other research, demonstrates that investment now can pay dividends in both the immediate future and the long-term”, she said.
Dods Sustainable Transport Dialogue is supported by Thales, General Motors, Centro, IMECHE and Boeing.