The Queen has announced the Government’s priorities for its coming term, including improving public transport, protecting the environment and reforming the planning system.
Responding, Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans said:
"The Government’s wider focus on levelling-up is admirable and should run through all the priorities announced today, as should the commitment to net-zero and tackling climate change.
"Especially in a year in which the United Kingdom is hosting COP26.
"The proof of its commitment to both will however be in the detail of its upcoming policies."
Sustrans was pleased to see plans for further investment in public transport mentioned in today’s speech.
But, the important Transport Decarbonisation Plan has still not been published and must deliver the wider changes needed in transport policy to slash emissions from the UK’s most polluting sector.
We hope to see an ambitious Plan which includes:
- Support for a long-term financial settlement for active travel to deliver the upcoming Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy £8bn is required over the next five years to increase cycling and walking whilst decreasing inequity.
- Measures to reduce demand for private vehicle trips.
- Plans for the introduction of a fair road pricing system.
- Strong and clear connection to local planning, to ensure everyone has the choice to live in a 20-minute neighbourhood where what people need is within a 20-minute return walk.
Sustrans welcome the opportunities that reform of the planning system offers to support decarbonisation.
The current planning system has been failing to create beautiful and vibrant neighbourhoods or communities, and at present, it does little to support the Government’s levelling-up agenda.
Planning should ensure developments are built in the right places to better building design standards.
It should ensure our neighbourhoods are attractive places to live, which bring people within walking distance of the majority of the things that they need on a daily basis, helping everyone to thrive without a car.
We hope to see planning reform include:
- Adoption of the 20-Minute Neighbourhood concept as a central principle of the planning system, including both the National Planning Policy Framework and Local Plans.
- Updated planning guidance to create active neighbourhoods that prioritise walking, cycling and public transport and reduce demand for car use.
- Embedding of the National Cycle Network within the National Planning Policy Framework as a UK-wide network of national importance.
- Prioritised community-led design which allows for identification of the concerns and needs of the community from the beginning.
The Environment Bill returned for its third feature in the Queen’s speech.
The Bill is the first major piece of environmental legislation in two decades and we believe it to be crucial to the continued protection of the UK’s environment post-Brexit.
Sustrans is pleased to see the importance still placed on the Bill’s passage and acknowledgement of its significance to the Government.
Strong parliamentary scrutiny will now be required to ensure it delivers protection of nature and the environment and cleans up our air.
We are keen to see a final product that includes:
- Prioritising public access to and enjoyment of the natural environment. We know people value things more when they get to experience them and many deprived communities do not have good enough access to green space.
- Stronger air pollution targets to ensure the Bill works to better protect people’s health and reduce air pollution.