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Wiltshire Climate Strategy Discussion Document January 2021

Transport and Travel

Where we are now?

According to the government's Department for Transport (DfT), in 2016 transport became the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases (opens new window) in the UK. This also applies to Wiltshire where 45% of GHG emissions are transport related.

DfT's analysis shows that road traffic is the biggest source of emissions within domestic UK transport, providing 91% of the total transport emissions. Wiltshire is a rural county, so car use is even more prevalent for most residents.  87% of personal trips in rural areas are made by car or van; 78% in urban areas (DfT (opens new window)). The county has over one third of a million vehicles (290,000 cars and 50,000 vans) for a population of half a million (DfT data 2020).  However, balanced against this the 2011 Census (opens new window) evidenced that 15% of Wiltshire households did not have access to a car or van.

Almost 4 billion miles were driven on Wiltshire roads in 2019 (opens new window) contributing to this national figure.

Each person in England on average completed 602 car trips (opens new window) per year in 2018, and cars are by far the most common mode of transport regardless of journey purpose, accounting for 61% of trips. Walking contributes just over a quarter of total trips. Buses and rail equate to 7% of trips (50% of national bus trips take place in London).  Approximately 50% of journeys made by car (opens new window) in England were for leisure or shopping purposes and 94% of car journeys are under 25 miles, with 58% under five miles in 2018. 

Cars today have lower emissions, with the average car in 2018 emitting just over 20% less CO2 for the same mileage than the average car in 1990. However, average CO2 emissions per mile for new cars have risen since 2016. This is mainly due to the increasing weight of vehicles.

Government recently brought forward the deadline for ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars/vans to 2030. The current age of cars at scrappage in the UK is 14.5 years, and vans 12 years. Based on these figures the Wiltshire car and van fleet would not be entirely zero emission until 2045.  

How goods are moved in, out and around Wiltshire is changing. Van traffic nationally has increased by 104% since 1990, with van emissions increasing since 1990 by 67%. Much of this change is attributed to service vehicles and 'last mile' internet delivery services. In 2018, Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) accounted for 17% of domestic UK Transport emissions, with HGV traffic increasing by 10% between 2012 and 2018. 

Air quality in Wiltshire is generally very good. Wiltshire (opens new window) does, however, have eight Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA's) where air quality is failing to meet national standards: Bradford on Avon, Calne, Devizes, Marlborough, Westbury and three in Salisbury. Pollutants of most concern are Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter. Decarbonising the transport system will improve air quality and health: in the UK approximately 40,000 deaths per year are linked to air pollution.  

What does a climate resilient and carbon neutral Wiltshire look like?

  • Transport in Wiltshire has become fossil fuel free.  
  • Active travel is the mode of choice for short journeys, for example by 2030, 50% of journeys in towns to be by bicycle or walking, in line with DfT Walking and Cycling Plan (opens new window)
  • Cycling infrastructure further developed to support increased utility cycling (cycling to work/school/shops etc rather than for leisure).  
  • Vehicle weight reduces significantly to circa 1000kg (currently average car weighs 1,400kg).  
  • Wiltshire has no air quality management areas.  
  • Community car clubs, car sharing and demand responsive transport help to reduce emissions and social/economic exclusion.   
  • Wiltshire embraces new forms of transport such as automated vehicles (opens new window) drone deliveries and cargo bikes.  
  • Broadband infrastructure enables high connection speeds, reducing the need to travel.

What will make this happen?

National policy will be critical in determining a roadmap for how the nation moves to carbon neutrality and also the responsibilities of local authorities in supporting this goal. The forthcoming DfT decarbonisation plan (complementing the existing Cycling and Walking Plan for England (opens new window)), anticipated to be published in spring 2021, will support the council in understanding its role in supporting the DfT's vision for the UK, particularly within our context as a rural county.

Identified national funding will be required to support the development of a carbon neutral network. The provision of a charging network for EV's will need significant investment as will conversion to low emission buses/trains and enhancing our cycling/walking infrastructure. The DfT's Active Travel Fund is enabling the council to make short-term improvements to cycling infrastructure but much more funding is needed.

As the county's vehicle fleet moves to electric, new skills will be required to support in the vehicular maintenance field and to help the roll out of a network of charging points. 52. National policy decisions relating to planning will also impact on our EV charging network. Policy will determine whether new housing developments will be required to provide the necessary infrastructure to support an EV charging point.

Structuring our response to reducing transport related GHG using a whole system approach will be more fruitful than focusing on active travel or migration to EV on their own. The adoption of an Avoid, Shift and Improve model would help realise this opportunity. The examples included are measures that are often considered in this context.

Avoid: Organising services so that distances that people need to travel can be reduced

  • Land use planning, i.e building houses accessible to employment
  • Putting services back into local, especially rural, areas
  • Encouraging use of the most local services
  • Videoconferencing

Shift: Moving journeys onto the most efficient/lowest forms of travel

  • Bus priority lanes, rail lines, cycle lanes and pedestrianised areas
  • Subsidisation of services, including flexible 'on demand' services
  • Simplifying/lowering ticket prices
  • Charging for car parking
  • Closing certain roads to cars
  • Charging for road use
  • Avoid infrastructure that doesn't contribute to wider sustainability

Improve: Making the emissions performance of vehicles low or zero carbon

  • Electric or hydrogen cars, buses and trains
  • Low carbon fuels, i.e biofuels
  • More efficient engines
  • Phasing out the least efficient vehicles
  • Lowering and enforcing speed limits

What Wiltshire Council can do

  • Lead by example and migrate to a low carbon fleet through its Fleet Strategy  
  • Work with commercial transport operators to help them migrate to low emission solutions, such as Salisbury electric buses 
  • Working with partners, for example to assist in the creation of new jobs, skills and supply chains to support migration to an EV network
  • Look to strengthen policy, key ones being the review of the Local Transport Plan and the Local Plan which will set the vision at a county level for a sustainable transport system
  • Ensure that new developments are located and designed to reduce the need to travel, and enable sustainable travel options
  • Highlight examples of best practice, such as community energy projects being used to power EV infrastructure 
  • Lobby government - for example in relation to national policy barriers and funding for e.g. active travel infrastructure improvements and electrification of Wiltshire rail
  • Work with government to provide active travel infrastructure to encourage modal shift to cycling and walking

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