Your chance to shape Lib Dem policy on… Transport

An area which has long been a priority for Lib Dems – and which as tackling climate becomes ever more crucial – is the UK’s transport infrastructure. But in recent years it has not been an area where we have made promoting our policies a high priority.

A policy working group, chaired by Shaun Carr, is now preparing a policy paper to come to party conference – and seeks input and views from party members. Please give yours!

The consultation paper they have produced takes a good look at many of the biggest issues around transport, and asks some highly pertinent questions.

A central set of issues is around the UK’s key major national transport infrastructure. Should the UK have a high-speed national passenger transport network? If so, is our proposed charge on freight on motorways the best way of funding it? If we are trying to encourage freight off the roads, should that too have a dedicated national freight rail network? Is road pricing the way forward – and if so, how can we best do it so that it gains public support?

A second key set of issues are around the carbon emissions which transport generates – currently 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions and the only sector where these are rising. How can we re-incentivise transport to limit that? Do our current proposals on aviation strike the right balance between restraining it, and allowing people and goods to travel? Are biofuels part of the solution to limiting emissions from cars?

And then there are some very local issues: how we do limit local congestion, and promote good quality and affordable local public transport arrangements?

Are our national structures for managing transport right? Should we for example look again at re-integrating train operating companies and management of the track?

And then finally there are safety issues. How do we promote greater safety for people travelling – from passengers on trains and planes, to children at risk from a speeding car in a residential street?

The working group would welcome your views on any of these issues, and they will help inform them in developing the proposals that they will bring to conference this autumn.

Don’t be one of those who complains when this comes to Bournemouth Conference in the autumn, that you didn’t have the chance to contribute – go to the website and contribute your views there, or if you prefer to do so privately, write to the chair of the working group, c/o Policy Projects Team, 4 Cowley St, London SW1P 3NB.

* Jeremy Hargreaves is Vice Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Policy Committee (FPC) which is responsible for the party’s policy making. He is also part of the writing group preparing the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for the next General Election.

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One Comment

  • Transport policy is a difficult area, as it has to balance facilitating movement, with sustainable development, sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.

    getting the balance between free movement and influencing environmentally sustainable travel is tough.

    national road pricing is a unique opportunity to provide transport with a sizeable revenue stream.

    this opportunity should not be ignored. In order to make it politically acceptable it should replace VED and our fuel tax reduced to a level consistant with the average VAT on fuel across europe.

    it would require a wholesale change to how the trunk road network is assessed, changing the current PSA1 target which gives a delay for the whole network over a year based on the 10% worst journey times on each section of the network. the critical thing is to view the network against a set service level to the travelling public.

    in order to reduce the overall CO2 levels variable speed limits should be introduced along the congested sections of the network.

    long distance rail services need improvement to compete with internal flights. the revenue raised by road user charging should go towards paying for new high speed rail routes.

    there should be a national travel plan, the current arramgements of each region being planned separately with individual regional spatial strategies has a fundamental weekness, it does not allow for national spatial planning to prioratise improvements and locations of new housing development on sustainable economic, community and environmental grounds.

    there should be the introduction of a national plan to shape the national direction for new development. this could help address the delivery problems for local authorities as a result of internal migration.

    walking and cycling should be given a boost with specific grants offered to local authorities to implement cycling and walking priority measures. Especially if it helps unlock new development in the right location.

    with national road user charging, this should include visitors to the uk, especially HCV drivers. a lorry tarriff should penalise the use of unsuitable roads, and discourage lorries from travelling at peak times. with reduced duty on uk fuel and foreign drivers equally charged for road use this would go someway to redress the imbalance felt by uk freight operators with thier european competitors.

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