Connect with us

Features

Campaign for Better Transport Media Briefing For Autumn Statement 2016

Published

on

Autumn Leaves by Aika Felt Works via flickr

The Government will today deliver its Autumn Statement, indicating its future spending plans.

It is expected that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond MP, will introduce a spending plan aimed to help those who are ‘just about managing’ and use infrastructure spending to help revive the economy.

We also understand that the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, are enthused by our ‘fix it first’ approach to transport spending – fix existing infrastructure and develop better-value local schemes, rather than large, expensive and damaging projects that would take many years to see fruition.

This briefing sets out the transport measures to look out for in the Autumn Statement next week.

Road building and air pollution

It is expected the Chancellor will continue commitment for delivering the Department for Transport’s Road Investment Strategy, announcing or re-announcing support for big road building schemes such as the Trans Pennine tunnel, but building work on such schemes will not begin until about 2020 at the earliest.

Tackling the poor condition of our roads should be made a priority. Motorists consistently rate road surface quality as a top concern. Research by the AA in 2013 showed a third of drivers had damaged their vehicle hitting a pothole in the previous two years with an average compensation claim coming in at over £580. One in five local roads in England and Wales are now described as in poor condition

Despite the announcement in 2014 of a £6 billion fund for English local authorities to repair potholes, the condition of local roads continues to decline resulting in a £12 billion pothole backlog. We expect the Chancellor to announce further funding for pothole repair, but a long term strategy is needed.

What we suggest is a new Road Repair and Renewals Fund to tackle the road and pavement maintenance backlog with ring-fenced funding and incentives for investment and apprenticeships. As in London where Transport for London has joined with boroughs to promote long-term road maintenance plans through the London Highways Alliance Contract.

Rail

A number of rail electrification schemes have recently been put on hold or scrapped. On 8 November, the rail Minister Paul Maynard MP announced that four electrification projects along the Great Western route are being deferred (Oxford to Didcot Parkway, Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads, and Henley and Windsor Thames Valley Branches) and on 16 November the Hull to Selby scheme was rejected. This could signal a shift in spending priorities at the Department for Transport towards smaller, quicker projects, or simply be a reflection of Network Rail’s struggle to deliver the schemes on time and on budget.

However, the Government does remain committed to building HS2, with the preferred route for Phase 2 north of Birmingham identified on 15 November, so big infrastructure is not completely being thrown out of future spending plans.

There are a number of quicker and more affordable measures the Government might take to improve rail for people who are just about managing.

We expect to see more support for reopening old stations and lines through another round of the Government’s New Stations Fund. Where this has recently happened forecast use has been exceeded, sometimes substantially. Further investment in such schemes could support new housing or regeneration without adding to surrounding road congestion. It is also a vital that the East-West rail line is taken forward as a priority with £10m made available to ensure the central section (Bicester-Bedford) is complete before 2024.

As the Mayor of London has announced the implementation his fares freeze in the capital, the national Government is rumoured to be considering implementing a similar fares freeze for Southern rail commuters. Alongside this measure to reconcile for the significant disruptions Southern rail commuters have experienced this year, we hope they are also offered a compensation package, and that similar measures are considered elsewhere in the country where people have experienced disruptions. Regulated rail fares are otherwise all due to increase by 1.9 per cent in January, as per the Government’s formula matching the fare changes to July’s Retail Price Index inflation level.

Buses

More journeys are made by bus more than any other form of public transport – 4.5 billion a year – but supported bus services, the ones councils subsidise because they are important but unprofitable, are getting cut at an alarming rate as local authorities struggle with cuts to their funding. Mileage on supported bus routes in non-metropolitan areas down 40 per cent in ten years.

Millions of people who are ‘just about managing’ rely on a good bus service to access education, jobs and services and buses help support independent living and many other benefits. Also, as bus use declines as fares rise, and the cuts take hold, more cars are forced onto roads and people without access to a car are getting more isolated, especially in rural areas.

To reverse this trend we need to see increased investment in the quality and extent of bus services with further rounds of the Green Bus Fund and the Community Minibus Fund, with this investment delivered through a new Bus and Coach Investment Strategy, as part of the Bus Services Bill which currently focuses only on giving more powers to city mayors to improve buses, missing the urgent problem affecting rural areas.

The Chancellor also might introduce a “Bus Bonus” scheme, modelled on those in operation in countries including the USA, Canada and Ireland – a tax benefit concession for commuters who use buses. It allows employers to provide their employees with vouchers to help pay for the cost of commuting to work by bus. Much like the Cycle to Work scheme, this would encourage more people to use buses as an alternative to driving, and also reduce the cost of the commute for the millions of people who already use buses.

Aviation

In an attempt to help people who are just about managing, the Chancellor may announce a cut in air passenger duty. The aviation industry is currently massively undertaxed with, for example, fuel tax not being paid at all. A cut in air passenger duty would be a tax giveaway to the rich, who fly the most, benefiting them much more than ordinary families who fly much less.

Campaign for Better Transport has called for a much fairer ‘frequent flyer levy’ which will shift air tax away from ordinary holidaymakers, making holidays cheaper, and ensuring those wealthy frequent flyers pay more. This would have the benefit of reducing the rising demand for frequent air travel, obviating the need for Heathrow expansion.

Cycling and Walking

The Government is producing a Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy, with targets for increasing cycling and also reversing the decline in walking, especially to schools. This could be published at or shortly after the Autumn Statement.

Unfortunately, the draft strategy included very little new funding. We recommend dedicated funding to support the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy, or at least further funding for various existing programmes. We also suggest the Government consider a Public Realm Investment Fund to support regeneration of high streets and road layouts so as to improve the visitor and pedestrian experience.

Air Pollution

The Government is expected to reduce vehicle fuel duty in its attempt to appeal to people who are just about managing. However, this measure will encourage more driving, which will create more traffic and increase emissions. This comes in the face of the recent second High Court ruling, on 2 November, that required the Government to set out that the Government’s plans to reduce air pollution to within legal limits by 2020, 2025 for London, are inadequate, and a more robust Air Quality Strategy is required that will bring air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible. Meeting this legal requirement will be impossible without reducing private car use and increasing uptake of public transport, cycling and walking.

To reduce air pollution and fund more sustainable alternatives the Chancellor should increase fuel duty, specifically on diesel and raise company car tax to promote green vehicles, as well as use the incentives above to support public transport, walking and cycling.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

Published

on

going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

Continue Reading

Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

Published

on

By

sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending