CTC has reacted with dismay to today’s budget as Chancellor George Osborne announced more road-building plans and another freeze on fuel duty. Osborne announced he was finding new money to create a four-lane M62 and will develop the case for an 18-mile road tunnel under the Pennines to link Manchester and Sheffield, reportedly costing £6billion.
As part of Government plans to build a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ there will also be upgrades to the A66 and A69 – while fuel duty across the country will be frozen at 57.95p per litre for the sixth year in a row.
CTC policy director Roger Geffen MBE, said: “Britain has illegal pollution levels, an obesity time-bomb and a climate change strategy which is officially failing. Yet the Chancellor responds by squandering squillions on road schemes, ignoring all the warnings from experts about the lack of clear economic benefits.
“Meanwhile, walking and cycling remain cash-starved, despite mountains of evidence that they are incredibly cost-effective investments.
“His cabinet colleagues need to remind him that he’s supposed to be part of the ‘greenest Government ever’ and urge him to reallocate some of the £15billion earmarked for road-building to invest instead in walking and cycling. That would be far better for our economy, our streets, our environment and our quality of life.”
The government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will be revealed soon.
However the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last November provided just £300million for cycling over the next five years, compared with £15bn for road-building.
This amounts to what CTC calls a "derisory" £1.39 per person annually, compared with the minimum of £10 per person, rising to £20, called for in the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report.
And Sustrans is similarly incensed.
Jason Torrance, Sustrans policy director, said:
"This freeze will be popular with many, but it fails to acknowledge the reality that we can’t go on relying on private cars as we have done for decades.
"Cars cause pollution, congestion, deaths and serious injuries. We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and make cycling, walking and public transport a more viable option.
"Extra revenue from a tax hike could be used to plug the gap in shrinking council budgets, make rail fares cheaper and build better cycling infrastructure.
“The continued freeze will do nothing for the 25 per cent of households without access to a car and fails to provide any viable alternatives for those already struggling with the cost of driving."