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'WORTHLESS GREEN CREDENTIALS ATTACKED BY PRESSURE GROUPS

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Transport pressure groups this week accused councils of backing private cars against environmentally friendly alter...
Transport pressure groups this week accused councils of backing private cars against environmentally friendly alternatives, in a report which casts doubt over local government's 'green' credentials.

The report, published by eight groups led by Transport 2000, reveals that 74% of the funding given to local authorities in 1996-97 to implement local transport programmes went to schemes primarily of benefit to private motorised road users. Just 4% went to schemes for cyclists and pedestrians.

In a wide-ranging critique of the Transport Policies and Planning system under which authorities bid for capital funding, the groups claim the Department of Transport is more willing to fund bids for road schemes than public transport initiatives. Only 16% of of public transport bids attracted funds, while 54% of road schemes were successful.

The report claims some councils are still trying to dress up roads-based strategies as sustainable packages, and calls on ministers to make it clear to local authorities that they will not win funding for road-dominated schemes.

Transport 2000 assistant director Lynn Sloman said: 'Good money is still being thrown at expensive, ineffective road schemes when it is desperately needed for alternatives. Unless government and local councils are prepared to grapple with this, all their green-tinged policy papers are worthless.'

Association of County Councils environment chairman Derek Bateman said the report's conclusions were reasonable, but added: 'The political reality is that 96% of passenger trips are made in cars. There are cases where counties have gone a long way to try to shift the balance.'

Andy Elmer, assistant planning and transport secretary at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, insisted that analysis of the system did not reveal the whole picture.

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