Agenda item

Journey to Net Zero: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Transport in Bath

The Cabinet is asked to formally adopt the Journey to Net Zero: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Transport in Bath plan.


Cllr Sarah Warren introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:

“In 2014, with cross party support, Bath & North East Somerset Council approved the Getting Around Bath Transport Strategy, setting out a vision and objectives for transport in Bath that recognised the importance of reducing carbon emissions, as well as restricting the intrusion of vehicles into the historic city centre. Following the council’s climate emergency declaration in 2019, Journey to Net Zero builds on that Strategy to flesh out a vision of a new transport system that will dramatically reduce transport carbon emissions from their current level of 29% of B&NES’ total. Transport is one of our top three priority areas for carbon reduction. Whilst this particular plan focuses primarily on the historic City of Bath with its unique transport challenges, it recognises throughout the importance of travel corridors between the city and the wider district.


We are all used to the convenience of driving our vehicles anywhere and at any time, but in the coming years, we need to make big changes to the way we move around. We understand, of course, that many people currently have no choice but to use their cars, as they don’t have safe cycle routes or footways they can use, or a suitable bus service. This plan provides a route map that will support future development of the facilities they will need, and as projects identified in this plan are developed, we will aim to quantify their carbon impacts.


This journey has already begun. We are already pursuing an ambitious, wide-ranging programme of projects, including construction of cycle lanes on Upper Bristol and Beckford Roads funded through the government’s Active Travel Scheme. We were also delighted to receive substantial funding to support the transport transition earlier this year, through both the City Region Sustainable Transport Fund, and the Bus Service Improvement Plan. However, we will need still further support from government (whose environmental aspirations still fail to take the Committee for Climate Change’s latest advice seriously enough) - in the form of both investment and local powers - to create a transport system fit for a climate emergency, as outlined in the plan before you this evening.


Our vision for transport into, out of, and around Bath will bring enormous benefits in other areas of life, too. We will see improvements in public health from reduced air pollution, and through routinely building exercise into our day, when we commute more actively. We will see students able to travel independently to school on safe cycle lanes and footpaths, or by bus, setting up good habits for life. We will provide secure cycle storage, with more opportunities to share, buy and lease bikes and e-bikes. And we will see pleasanter public and residential spaces for people to enjoy spending time in, as more of us find we have a practical alternative and choose to leave our vehicles at home.


Our heritage assets will be better preserved, and can be better appreciated, without the constant onslaught of traffic pollution and noise. I also look forward to substantially reduced congestion on our road network, so that people don’t waste their time, or businesses their money, sat unnecessarily in traffic. In this historic city, it is impossible to build our way out of the stranglehold that traffic has on our city through road-building. The only way to reduce congestion is to have fewer vehicles moving around, and we have set out here the vision to achieve this. This forward-looking plan will support economic growth, competitiveness and jobs in our area, whilst promoting improved choice and access to work and education.


Electric cars are, of course, a part of the answer, and I am pleased that the council will very shortly be announcing new charging facilities in our car parks. We also want to see more car clubs, so that more people don’t need to own their own vehicle in future. However, electric vehicles can only be one strand of the solution, as generation of the electricity needed to power them emits carbon dioxide, as does their manufacture. And electric vehicles take up space in traffic jams just like petrol ones. The long-term solution therefore needs to look more deeply, ensuring people can make more of their journeys on foot, by bike or by public transport, whilst maintaining vehicular access for those, such as some people with disabilities, whose transport needs can only be met by car.


In the sphere of public transport, we aim to create multi-modal interchanges, traffic-free bus lanes, and universal, integrated ticketing, whilst investigating the feasibility of mass transit.


We have placed people at the centre of our Journey to Net Zero, having consulted extensively, and convened the first meeting of our new Journey to Net Zero Transport Forum, which will advise us on implementation of the plan, yesterday. One of our corporate priorities is Listening to People, and whilst it is sometimes difficult to get the details of the “how” exactly right, we really mean it. In response to the public’s suggestions, we are focused on providing improvements to public transport, walking and cycling, whilst seeking to reduce the intrusion of HGVs into the city, and to maintain excellent access for blue badge holders.


We all have the power to make small changes through the individual transport decisions we take every day, but this plan recognises the transformation needed to our transport system to create places we want to live and work, with better-connected, healthier, and genuinely sustainable communities.


I would, of course, like to thank Nick Simons and the rest of the team for their hard work pulling this important document together over the last couple of years. Cabinet Members, I commend the plan to you.”


Cllr Manda Rigby seconded the motion and made the following statement:

“It's clear that if we wish to get to carbon neutrality by 2030 keeping doing what we are doing and expecting a different outcome is the definition of madness.

One of the 2 main levers we have, in addition to looking at building emissions, is to alter our defaults on how we travel round Bath and North East Somerset.

In the paper we have in front of us, we are setting out not only a vision, but also the start of a roadmap, including existing projects, developing projects, and future projects in transport to achieve our climate emergency promise.

This is a working document and has been widely consulted on. It will form, if adopted, an umbrella document for all transport related schemes...we will be hearing about Park and Rides later as an example.


I particularly want to draw out the section where we emphasise "it's not about stopping people doing things, it's about doing the same things differently" and would add "where possible".


There are some journeys which need to be done by cars, either because if a lack of alternative, or because of the needs of the user. We need to work to ensure we influence WECA as much as we can to ensure public transport in banes is protected, and with WECA to lobby central government for proper funding of buses and helping an industry in crisis become a public service again.


Active travel options are at the heart of this document, alongside creating liveable neighbourhoods. It's our role, all of us, to ensure we promote the strategies of both, by implementing the best schemes.


Adopting this document is the result of a lot of work by a lot of people...I am honoured to second it, urge you to adopt it, and then let's make net zero happen.”


Cllr Richard Samuel stated that Local Authorities must deal with the national problem of carbon emissions and that B&NES is doing as much as it can.  If no action is taken, then this will be detrimental to future generations.  A MORI survey has shown that the majority of world citizens support action being taken on climate change.


Cllr Kevin Guy also acknowledged the great threat posed by climate change.


RESOLVED (unanimously) to formally adopt the Journey to Net Zero: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Transport in Bath.

Supporting documents: