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Engineers question new Local Sustainable Transport Fund

The government’s local transport White Paper and £560M Local Sustainable Transport Fund provoked criticism from engineering bodies after being launched today, for offering too little cash and too little emphasis on infrastructure.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said the local transport White Paper was focused too much on non-infrastructure related investment.

“We believe that [the greatest contribution to growth] will most likely be found through targeted investment to upgrade and improve the physical infrastructure of our local transport system,” said CECA national director Rosemary Beales.

The ICE said the fund’s “limited size” would restrict how much it can achieve.

“£560M won’t go far across 300 local authorities, especially in the context of the hefty cuts already made to local authority capital budgets.”

Tom Foulkes, ICE

“£560M won’t go far across 300 local authorities, especially in the context of the hefty cuts already made to local authority capital budgets,” said ICE director general Tom Foulkes. “Empowering local authorities to make their own decisions on transport schemes must go hand in hand with a sufficient stream of funding.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) will make £560M available to the fund over the four year period to 2014-15. In 2010/11, it provided only £119.8M worth of sustainable transport grants, of which the majority - £63.5M – was spent on cycling and school travel projects.

The DfT said the new fund was a move away from specific grants to allowing local authorities freedom to develop transport packages that address the particular transport problems in their areas.

Support from LEPs

The government called on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to engage with local transport authorities and partner bids to the fund. “We expect the Local Enterprise Partnerships to form a view on the strategic transport priorities which best support sustainable economic growth in their areas,” it said.

“We will be looking for strong levels of partnership support, including from business, which Local Enterprise Partnerships should be in a good position to demonstrate.”

Any English local transport authority outside London can apply for the fund.

“LEPs [will] form a view on the strategic transport priorities which best support sustainable economic growth in their areas.”

Local transport White Paper

The White Paper puts its main emphasis on the progressive electrification of passenger cars and the provision of increased generation capacity and a decarbonised grid. High speed rail and rail electrification will also be prioritised.

“The government believes that it is at the local level that most can be done to enable people to make more sustainable transport choices,” the White Paper says.

The White Paper also set out the government’s long term strategy to reduce carbon emissions from transport. The strategy indicated that key rail routes will be electrified from roughly 2020. High speed rail will be in use from 2025, and biofuels will be used in aviation from the 2020s.

Ultra Low Emission Vehicles will reach the mass market by around 2030, said the strategy, and road transport will be “largely decarbonised” by 2050.

The DfT also said it will publish a “basic carbon tool” for local authorities to use to evaluate transport policies.

Local Sustainable Transport Fund breakdown

2011/122012/132013/142014/15Total
£80M£140M£160M£180M£560M

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