Active Travel Takes a Hit: English Government Slashes Budget
A backward move: Government slashes active travel budget for England
The UK government has announced significant cuts to the budget for active travel schemes in England outside of London, sparking criticism from campaigners and experts who say it will hinder efforts to meet Net Zero and active travel targets. The cuts come ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget. Despite the government’s claim to be committed to supporting alternative forms of transport, it is estimated that two-thirds of previously promised funding will be lost. The Cycling & Walking Alliance (CAWA) has labeled the government’s decision a “backward move,” arguing that the cuts will make meeting vital climate and transport goals impossible.
Elaboration and Expansion
CAWA has called the cuts to active travel funding in England outside of London “disproportionate” compared to those made for other modes of transport. The alliance estimates that the cuts will lead to the loss of roughly two-thirds of the promised funding for cycling and walking schemes, which already receive significantly less investment in active travel than London, Scotland, and Wales.
In a written statement, Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper cited “headwinds” such as inflation relating to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supply chain disruptions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic as reasons for the cuts. However, the shock to the economy brought on by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘fiscal event’ last September, which led to a £65 billion emergency bond-buying program and the cost of government borrowing soaring, was notably missing from Harper’s list of reasons.
Harper said the government remains committed to investing in active travel despite the cuts, citing over £850 million already invested in active travel between 2020/21 and 2022/23. However, campaigners argue it will not fully realize the government’s transport and climate targets even with the additional commitment of a further £100 million in capital spending on active travel.
– The UK government’s climate target is to cut carbon emissions net zero by 2050, which requires a significant shift away from fossil-fuelled modes of transport.
– Active travel, such as cycling and walking, is a key strategy for reducing carbon emissions, improving public health, and easing road congestion.
– Before the cuts, the UK’s active travel investment was already behind many other European countries.
The UK government’s cuts to active travel funding in England outside of London are a “backward move” that will undermine efforts to meet crucial climate and transport goals, according to experts and campaigners. Despite citing “headwinds” such as the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the cuts are seen as disproportionate compared to funding for other modes of transport. To achieve a net-zero economy by 2050, the UK must shift towards more sustainable forms of travel, such as cycling and walking.
The UK government’s decision to slash active travel funding in England outside of London is a significant setback to efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve public health. With the UK’s climate targets requiring drastic reductions in fossil-fuelled transport, the government must invest in alternative forms of travel, including cycling and walking, to meet its commitments. Campaigners are calling for greater investment in active travel and a reversal of the recent cuts to ensure the government’s transport and climate goals are not derailed.