Message received from West Berkshire Council:
People and businesses in West Berkshire are being urged to have their say on a proposed thirty-year transport strategy for the South East which aims to improve journeys, boost the economy and protect the environment.
The strategy outlines how, with the right investment in our region’s transport network, the South East’s economy will more than double by 2050 to between £450bn and £500bn per year – creating an additional 500,000 jobs, boosting quality of life and access to opportunities for all and helping cut the South East’s carbon emissions to net-zero.
It has been produced by Transport for the South East, a unique partnership bringing together local authorities, business leaders and transport organisations to speak with one voice on our region’s transport priorities.
A major focus of the strategy is reducing the region’s reliance on private cars to reduce congestion, cut carbon emissions and improve air quality. Today, cars account for 70% of all journeys in the South East compared to just 4% by rail and 5% by bus. It also highlights how better transport links can support economic growth around our key international gateways, such as Port of Southampton, which are vital to the local, regional and national economy.
To do this, the strategy sets out a thirty-year framework to guide decisions about where, when and how money is invested in the South East’s transport network, along with a range of schemes and initiatives to make sustainable travel easier and more attractive to people and businesses. These could include better and faster rail journeys, improved links to ports and airports, a real-terms freeze on rail fares, cheaper off-peak fares and extra funding to protect and enhance vital bus services.
Richard Somner, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport said: I’m pleased that this strategy has been created with sustainability at its heart. By putting both people and the planet to the fore and prioritising public transport, we can vastly increase the chances of reducing congestion, cutting emissions and boosting our air quality. I urge everyone to take a look and have their say on this forward thinking strategy.”
Charles Eales, Co-Chairman of the Berkshire Strategic Transport Forum added, “This draft strategy advocates a vision for the South East’s transport system that creates great places – a sustainable, inclusive and accessible transport system which promotes prosperity, health and fairness for residents and commuters. This links closely to the themes outlined in our emerging Local Industrial Strategy and our current call for infrastructure bids.”
The draft transport strategy identifies priorities for future investment by looking at the challenges people and businesses will face in moving around the region and the opportunities these present to support sustainable economic growth.
These include a range specific schemes as well as wider policies and initiatives. For example, the strategy argues for greater use of new and emerging technology such as connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) to boost connectivity. It makes the case for policy changes to enable more joined up planning, particularly between transport and housing, to help reduce the need to travel and build more sustainable communities. And the strategy also recognises that tough decisions will need to be made about how, not if, we manage demand on the busiest parts of our transport networks.
The final transport strategy is due for publication in April 2020, with a strategic investment plan planned for publication in 2021. This will provide a prioritised, costed and deliverable list of schemes, initiatives and policies to start turning the South East’s vision into reality.
Have your say
To read the draft transport strategy and take part in the consultation, go to tfse.org.uk/transport-strategy