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Chief scientist urges transport spend rethink

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BRITAIN'S CHIEF scientist Sir David King last week urged government to review the £8bn it spends on transport each year to take account of the impact of technological advances.

King said investment in traditional systems could be wasted if new ways are devised to exploit existing transport capacity.

'Transport is a growing contributor to greenhouse gases.

It is essential that we find solutions that minimise carbon dioxide emissions.

'Building intelligence into the infrastructure to deliver efficiency and reduce the need for movement will be key.' King was commenting on four possible future scenarios identified by the government's 'Foresight' science think.

Its latest report Intelligent Infrastructure Futures looks 50 years ahead at the impact of science and technology on Britain's transport needs.

As well as predicting a high-tech future, the report identifi scenarios where commuting is eliminated with people living in 'urban colonies' supplied by locally produced goods and where a global energy crisis forces a return to a more rural lifestyle.

Transport minister Stephen Ladyman said the report was a first step towards shaping the future, but rejected the need for a review of current transport policy.

'We still have to deal with the world we are living in today. I have no idea if we will need the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester in 80 years time, but I do know we will need it in 20 years time.'

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