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Gloucestershire councils pledge to deliver net zero transport

Mark Moran
13 January 2023
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council

 

All local authorities in Gloucestershire have signed an agreement to work together on a county-wide project to tackle transport decarbonisation and achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

The agreement was signed by Gloucestershire County Council, along with all the district councils in the region including Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucester City Council, Stroud District Council, and Tewkesbury Borough Council.

Transport accounts for 34% of CO2 emissions in Gloucestershire, with cars being responsible for 58% of transport-related emissions. To meet the region's 2030 goal of 80% emissions reduction, the project will aim to shorten car trips by 7.5%, reduce overall trips by 7.5%, increase ride sharing to 2.5%, boost active travel by 300%, raise public transport use by 100%, and increase the number of electric vehicles on the road.

The agreement represents a significant milestone in regional collaboration on critical Net Zero projects. The joint statement recognises councils’ commitment to tackling the climate emergency and outlines plans for sustainable transport and land use, including:

  • Prioritising the integration of new housing developments alongside high-frequency and high-quality public, active travel options and at existing or new service centres that enable a high level of self-containment.
  • Aligning Local Plans and Local Transport Plans with the ambitions of the county's transport decarbonisation plan.
  • Supporting local efforts to create sustainable neighbourhoods and building in active travel and public transport availability to make these more attractive travel options.
  • Encouraging people to reduce the need for, or shorten, some journeys, to shift to active travel and public transport modes and to improve the sustainability of those journeys that still require the use of private vehicles.

The project was developed with UK100's Local Power in Action programme, with the collaboration of district councils and the leadership of Gloucestershire County Council.

Gloucestershire County Council is committed to being a leader in sustainable transport and aspires to work with its partner councils to reduce transport emissions in the region in line with its ambition to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2030.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, also welcomed the project, stating, "We are proud of our sustainable transport plans for Gloucestershire and that together with our district councils, we have today agreed to align our efforts to encourage shifts in travel behaviour. We will achieve this by delivering on our exciting projects including The Robin, the rollout of 1,000 EV charging points, our flagship 26-mile cycle spine and the Arle Court Transport Hub. This statement of shared intent is a vital step towards achieving our ambitious goals and creating a cleaner, greener future for all our residents."

Cllr Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, adds: “I am excited to be a part of this historic project to reduce surface transport emissions and help achieve our district-wide decarbonisation goals. Our city has a rich history, and we are committed to preserving it for future generations by reducing our own contribution to global warming and investing in adaptation measures to limit the impacts of the extreme weather events we are increasingly experiencing. We have already made great progress on reducing transport emissions from Gloucester City Council staff through our Agile Working policy and Green Travel Plan and will take these lessons into our forthcoming Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.”

Cllr Max Wilkinson, cabinet member for economic development, culture, tourism and wellbeing at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: "This is a hugely important initiative that sits right at the heart of efforts to reach net zero. We are pleased to be working across the county to make it happen. From a local perspective, we hope this work will build on the Connecting Cheltenham report. This report outlines Cheltenham’s vision for sustainable transport in the borough, including reducing car trips by increasing walking, cycling and public transport in the town. Walking and cycling in particular will make people healthier and happier too, while contributing towards cleaner air."

Cllr Rob Bird, leader of Tewkesbury Borough Council, said: “We are very keen to support the reduction of carbon emissions in Gloucestershire, and this project is a successful milestone in getting the Gloucestershire councils to set out a common objective. As a district council, we’re proud to see ourselves at the forefront of this drive. Our carbon-reduction policies are testament to our commitment and include the installation of our pioneering solar canopy and the development of our new electric vehicle charging strategy, which aims to develop a robust EV charging network across the borough. We are looking forward to working with our district and county partners to further deliver on our commitment to reducing our carbon emissions through this project."

Cllr Catherine Braun, leader of Stroud District Council, said: “As the leader of Stroud District Council, I am delighted to join the county-wide commitment to reduce transport emissions and achieve net zero goals. Our district has a strong track record on environmental action, and we continue to invest in local walking and cycling projects. As a largely rural area, we look forward to seeing improvements in bus services for our residents, more support for car sharing, and the roll out of EV charging points. We would also love to see the reopening of the Bristol Road rail station in Stonehouse and the re-opening of passenger services along the branch line to Sharpness to support our new Local Plan, which will be leading the way on sustainable development with a new core policy to meet climate and nature targets.”

As set out in a statement of shared intent, the councils, together with communities and businesses, will now work to establish land use patterns that support short journeys and sustainable transport options that feed into the wider public/active transport network. They will also aim to prevent social isolation, and prioritise new development in areas of existing or future high accessibility to local services.
Gloucestershire County Council said it wants to hear from its residents, businesses, and community groups, to understand what they think are the best methods for reducing transport emissions and tackling the climate emergency.  

Gloucestershire Transport Decarbonisation Roundtable

Statement of Shared Intent

“Gloucestershire County Council and the six district authorities recognise the need to reduce emissions from surface transport in line with science-based targets and the commitments of the Climate Change Act 2008, which require an 80% emissions reduction by 2030, and Net Zero by 2050.

“Gloucestershire aspires to become a leader and exemplar of best practice for transport emissions reduction in the UK. We commit to working together as a diverse county with rural and urban character to develop a countywide transport decarbonisation strategy, that encourages shifts in travel behaviour to achieve the necessary carbon emissions reductions to reach net zero.

“As Local Plans and Local Transport Plans are updated, we will seek to support the ambitions and delivery of this countywide transport decarbonisation strategy. The partners will support local efforts to create sustainable neighbourhoods within acceptable walking distance of local service centres and build in active travel and public transport availability to make these the most attractive travel options.

“We acknowledge our roles and responsibilities in reaching our demanding targets by encouraging people through education, engagement, and action to choose to avoid the need for some journeys, to shift to more sustainable transport modes and to improve the sustainability of those journeys that still require the use of private vehicles.  We will work through Climate Leadership Gloucestershire to implement this statement.”

Christopher Hammond, membership and insights director at UK100, praised the project, saying: "This is a shining example of local government’s leadership in the fight against climate change. By aligning transport strategies with local development plans, the region will be able to provide sustainable homes and decarbonise the journeys across the county. This united effort in Gloucestershire to reduce emissions and improve air quality is exactly what we need to see more of in order to make real progress towards a sustainable future. It won’t be easy to realise their ambition, but it is a testament to the power of local action and the positive impact it can have on our communities and the environment."

UK100 is a network of local leaders who have pledged to lead a rapid transition to Net Zero with Clean Air in their communities ahead of the government’s legal target.

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