Draft Exeter Transport Plan is a dead-end say Greens

11 March 2019

Exeter Green Party has demanded Devon County Council withdraw their draft Transport Strategy for Exeter, labelling it unfit for the 21st century. In an open letter, Greens describe the strategy as ‘flawed and weak’ and call for a new plan that puts reduction of carbon emissions and addressing the city’s poor air quality at its heart.

The Strategy sets out plans for transport of all kinds, into and across the city for the next decade. According to Devon County’s own figures, transport causes 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Devon but the Transport Strategy doesn’t mention climate change or the need to reduce carbon and other emissions at all. 

Green Party Councillor, Chris Musgrave, said: 

“Devon County Council is showing it’s dinosaur credentials in not even mentioning the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traffic, and failing to make improving the city’s dirty air, largely caused by traffic, a key goal. The County Council has just declared a ‘climate emergency’ [1]. By definition, such an emergency requires rapid action, well before the 2050 date the County has agreed for carbon-neutrality. That means going back to the drawing board and creating a new Transport Strategy that will deliver immediate carbon emissions reductions from transport.”   

Exeter Greens also say that the draft Strategy lacks clear objectives or reliable underpinning evidence to justify the proposals put forward. Prospective Green Councillor Diana Moore said: 

“Devon County Council is out of touch, thinking it they can continue doing what they have always done and it will somehow make things better. They are also in clear denial of Exeter’s air pollution crisis. At a recent public meeting in Alphington, the County’s Director of Transportation and Planning told people that 2000 new homes and an estimated additional 5000 cars in SW Exeter would not cause further congestion in Alphington, and that air pollution wasn’t a problem there. Our evidence suggests this is one of the worst polluted areas of the city. The County and City Council need to put their heads together and come up with a 21st century transport plan. 

There is also concern that Devon and Exeter Councils are saying different things to the public about important transport and air pollution issues. Whilst Exeter City Council claim that air quality in Exeter is “generally good”, Devon’s Director of Public Health says in relation to air quality that “all areas of the city requiring improvements to reduce the impact on human health as far as possible. [2]”   

Park and Ride, put forward as a key solution in the draft Transport Strategy, is claimed by Devon County Council as showing increased use, whilst Exeter City Council say that use has gone down [3]. 

Cllr Musgrave concluded:

“Transport problems, including cost, congestion, dirty air and the lack of safe cycling and walking in the city are already reducing our quality of life and impacting on our health. We need a modern transport strategy that will tackle these issues head on, not a deck-chair rearranging exercise”.

ENDS

Notes:

[1] DCC Full Council meeting, 21/02/2019 page 20: “The Council reaffirms its recognition of the scale and urgency of the global challenge from climate change, as documented by the latest Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and declares a climate emergency.”

[2] Letter from Director Devon Public Health to Exeter Green Party, 07/08/2018.

[3] Exeter City Council Full Council, December 18th 2018.