Essex should ‘walk, cycle or take the bus’ to prevent catastrophic temperatures

PUBLISHED: 10:14 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:14 17 September 2020

Essex County Council. Photo: ANDRA MACIUCA.

Essex County Council. Photo: ANDRA MACIUCA.

ANDRA MACIUCA

Public transport has to be rebuilt, and residents must increase their cycling and walking over taking a car or there will be massive long term environmental problems, Essex Climate Action Commission has said.

Conservative Essex County Councillor Simon Walsh, cabinet member for environment and climate change action. Photo: Supplied by Essex County Council.Conservative Essex County Councillor Simon Walsh, cabinet member for environment and climate change action. Photo: Supplied by Essex County Council.

Lord Randall, commmission chair, said: “We must take action now to reduce our carbon footprint in Essex.

“There is no time to waste. We need to make changes today before it’s too late.”

The latest commission meeting discussed expanding Essex’s cycle network, growing electric vehicle charging capacity and new ‘park and choose’ schemes for onward travel by bicycle, scooter or on foot.

The meeting heard that a third of greenhouse gases in Essex come from transport and without action, temperatures will rise to catastrophic levels in just 25 years. This would lead to water shortages, increased flooding and degradation of agricultural land.

Tracey Vickers, head of sustainable transport at Essex County Council, told the meeting: “The most sustainable form of travel is no travel at all.

“Where people must travel, we need to encourage modal shift into active travel, such as walking and cycling, whilst also supporting electrification to decarbonise getting from A to B.”

The commission’s recommendations have been sent to Essex County Council.

Green Saffron Walden town councillor Trilby Roberts said: “I totally endorse that. Lord Randall is reinforcing government’s message, and the message at town and Uttlesford District Council level.

“One of the main causes of carbon is transport. There is a knock on effect on health because of air quality.

“We need money for bike routes in Uttlesford.”

Cllr Roberts said Essex County Council has reviewed rules on the width of cycle lanes.

Under previous rules, cycle lanes had to be three metres wide.

Cllr Roberts said the town council will send its cycle plans for Saffron Walden to Essex County Council again. She said schemes will be focused on towns, as there are challenges in developing them in the countryside.

A Saffron Walden Town Council spokeswoman said: “Essex County Council said recently they can be narrower. They finally agreed with us that they only have to be three metres wide if they are shared by pedestrians and cyclists.

“We don’t know if the paths we put forward were ever considered. They asked us to submit three schemes and we did, and never heard anything else.”

Conservative Cllr Simon Walsh, cabinet member for environment and climate change Action said: “The recommendations Commissioners considered at the September meeting were not specific to individual city, district or borough councils but relevant to the county of Essex as a whole. The final set of recommendations from the Commission will be discussed during its meeting in October and is expected to be published in the winter on the Council’s website.

“The Council is supporting the work of the Essex Climate Action Commission, which includes exploring how encouraging more active travel can contribute towards reducing carbon emissions in Essex.”


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