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Right direction for rural transport

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 08:34

Car on a leafy lane Car on a leafy lane Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

CPRE calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to set out the right policies on rural transport.

In advance of the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin’s speech at the CPRE's 2012 Annual Lecture, we call on him to set out policies that:

Protect the countryside from new road-building
• Improve and integrate rural public transport
• Reduce danger on rural roads
• Maximise net environmental gains from High Speed 2 while paying due regard to high quality design
• Tackle roadside clutter

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of CPRE, says: “We are particularly pleased that Patrick McLoughlin will be giving CPRE’s annual lecture as he is the first Secretary of State for Transport in half a generation to come from a rural constituency."

“The public concern about ash dieback shows how deeply people’s connection with the countryside runs. Transport policy plays a big part in shaping our experience of nature and the countryside. We need transport policies that aid economic recovery, of course, but it is also vital that the Government gives priority to ensuring that they do not unnecessarily damage the beauty and tranquillity of the countryside. Our aim should be to enhance both, and through them everyone’s quality of life."

Transport and the countryside: five concerns

1. Roadside clutter
Signage clutter builds up over time without anyone taking responsibility for removing unnecessary signs. Not only does it disfigure the countryside, it also distracts drivers and entails long term maintenance costs. CPRE calls for:
• The new edition of traffic signage rules due out in 2014 to make it easier to use fewer and smaller signs, particularly in rural areas
• Communities to be given the right to formally request their local highway authority to carry out and act on a clutter audit
More info: A very cluttered country

2. High Speed 2 (HS2)
HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project in a generation and a key component of the Government’s vision to make rail ‘the long distance mode of choice’. It needs to be done well to minimise impacts on the countryside. CPRE calls for:
• Greater routing of HS2 phase 2 – the next section of the network to Manchester and Leeds, due to be announced next month – along transport corridors and with stations in city centres not out of town Green Belt locations
• Community level compensation plus an endowment fund to secure long-term viability of mitigation measures along the route
More info: Next Steps for the New Secretary of State, a report written by CPRE on behalf of a coalition of NGOs

3. Road building in the countryside
CPRE fears that a new roads strategy due in the near future could herald a return to road building in a misguided attempt to get the economy moving. CPRE calls for:
• Ruling out of major road building in the countryside
• More effective management and maintenance of existing roads
More info: Road-building – a developing threat

4. Rural road safety
Over two-thirds of road deaths now occur on rural roads and, as the crash suffered last week by Bradley Wiggins showed, even our Olympic champions are not safe on them. CPRE is calling for:
• Introduction of 40mph zones and a THINK! safety campaign to encourage more considerate driving for minor rural roads
• Retrofitting of safe, high quality routes for walking, riding and cycling along and crossings across busier roads
More info: Making cycling a better choice

5. Access to and in the countryside
Better public transport in the countryside is needed not just for rural dwellers but also for people in towns who want to visit the countryside for leisure or for work. The closure of some of the railway lines and stations closed in the Beeching cuts are now increasingly recognised to be a mistake. CPRE calls for:
• Greater ambition for reopening of stations and railways in rural areas, with gaps in the rail network filled by regular coaches and buses
• Integrated ticketing and travel cards in rural areas
More info: Don’t leave rural railways in the sidings

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