Roger Higman, transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth said:
'The British Road Federation represents companies that have made billions of pounds from congestion, pollution and bulldozing the countryside. This attack is a desperate attempt to promote their self-interest over the well-being of the country as a whole.
'The public is crying out for traffic reduction. That's why over 400 MPs are backing this crucial Bill. We are now looking for the Government to support it too.'
The BRF claims:
* 'Targets have been arbitarily set with no formal assessment of the environmental, economic or social implications of trying to achieve them'
FOE response: Earlier this week FOE published a report by Professor John Whitelegg, a former advisor to Mr Prescott, which concludes that reducing traffic by 10 per cent was 'practical, feasible and could beneficial to people, communities, urban and rural areas and to the economy'.
* 'Government forecasts already indicate that traffic is likely to continue to grow at a rate of nearly 2 per cent per annum. This would mean trying to achieve 15 per cent and 20 per cent cuts in a 5 and 10 year period respectively.'
FOE response: The very fact that the RTRB largely involves stopping traffic growth that has yet to occur, that its targets are so easy to achieve. If the Bill's targets are met, nine out of ten current car journeys will still be made by car in 2010 and car use will be as high was it was in 1987. However, cutting traffic by this amount will cut congestion and pollution by far more.
* 'Pricing people off the road will hit lower income families'
FOE response: Professor Whitelegg's report makes it clear that reducing traffic by 10 per cent can be achieved without increasing taxes on drivers, although this would be useful. A combination of land use planning changes, parking policies, better public transport, much improved cycling provision and detailed attention to the school run will deliver a 10 per cent cut. 96% of the poorest fifth of British households do not have a car. They would benefit directly from traffic reduction.
- 'Traffic volume is only one measure of transport activity; what about air quality, road safety, congestion, noise and journey reliabilty.'
FOE response: Yes, though traffic is a major factor for all the other concerns. If we reduce traffic we will also tackle air quality problems, road safety, noise etc
- 'There already exists a Road Traffic Reduction Act which allows local authorities to set traffic targets.'
FOE response: The RTRA 1997 only puts duties on local authorities. Its provisions don't cover motorways and other trunk roads or put any duties on government ministers to plan national transport policy for traffic reduction.