The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Climate Commission (CPICC) final report contains two major recommendations for transport. The first is to “reduce car miles driven by 15% to 2030” across the region. The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has a similar aim (equivalent to a 17–21% reduction) just for Cambridge.
Both organisations’ targets are relative to a fixed baseline, not the business-as-usual growth curve. As housing and jobs in the Greater Cambridge region are expected to continue growing rapidly, the challenge will be even bigger. Frankly, I have spoken to no one in a position of power who thinks this is even remotely possible. However, mitigating climate change isn’t a choice. The question is not whether but how we achieve the scale and pace of change required – for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
That is why the CPICC recommends “a plan for engagement and behaviour change with local people and businesses” – not the usual “What do you think of this?” consultations, but something much more informative, inclusive and creative. Ideas include “citizen’s advice initiatives”, “a ‘climate and inclusion’ working group”, “regular participative democracy activities, such as Citizens’ Assemblies”, “a network of local climate and nature champions”, and “engaging schools and young people”. This is absolutely right, but will require substantial resources which have not been costed and, in any case, local authorities simply do not have.
The other major recommendation is for three freight consolidation centres to be established outside “major urban areas”, with all onward deliveries made by zero-emission vehicles. This is something almost everyone can get behind, so should be prioritised for rapid delivery.
GCP has indicated a ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) is likely to be part of its City Access proposals. That will create a business case for edge-of-city logistics hubs. But they must be built in the right places. For instance, the Girton Interchange is the ideal location for the primary logistics hub, as it’s at the junction of the M11, A14 and A428. The planning and transport authorities need to agree on those hub locations in their respective planning documents.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 27 October 2021.