Green MEP launches green transport vision in Southampton during visit to EU-funded sustainability project
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, visited Southampton on Friday [21 September] to meet with academics, council representatives and freight bosses as he launched his new report on sustainable mobility.
The senior Green met with Neil Tuck, Sustainable City Team Leader at Southampton City Council, Tom Cherrett, Professor of Logistics and Transport Management at the University of Southampton and Gary Whittle, Commercial Director, Meachers Global Logistics, at the Southampton Sustainable Distribution Centre operated by Meachers Global Logistics on Maurentania Road.
As part of the EU-funded CityLab scheme, the centre is working to reduce the air pollution impacts of road freight by taking a more consolidated approach to logistics.
The project features in Mr Taylor's new report 'Outmoded: a call for sustainable mobility in the 21st Century', which outlines the Greens' plans to build a low carbon transport network.
Following the visit, Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Transport and Environment Committees, said:
"The air pollution choking our lungs is just one of many acute symptoms of the malady at the heart of the Conservatives' outdated transport policies. The government is failing, and spectacularly so."
"The CityLab project here in Southampton is a rare bright spot; it is telling that the driving force behind it is the EU, rather than the UK government. But the project is just one element of an overhaul to our transport network that must come sooner rather than later."
"We are on a route to ruin. We need a fundamental change in our approach to transport. At its crux must be the recognition that the car can no longer be the king of Britain's transport network, lest we drive ourselves towards a climate, public health and environmental Carmageddon."
"My report sets out the alternative: with an integrated, accessible and affordable public transport network at its heart with fully-funded cycling and pedestrian infrastructure easing the strain on our lungs."
The release of the report coincides with Southampton City Council's failure to meet the government's deadline to submit plans to bring air quality in the city within EU legal limits. It also came just the day before World Car Free Day.
Mr Taylor continued:
"The government's attempt at a clean air strategy, resulting from a series of embarrassing High Court defeats, is dangerous and inadequate. While it is right local authorities have a part to play in cleaning up our toxic air, what the government is doing is seeking to pass the buck to cash-strapped councils while urging them not to take the most effective action to clean up our toxic air."
Speaking to the Guardian about the lapsed deadline, Christopher Hammond, the leader of Southampton City Council, argued that many of the issues were not within its control.
“We have acted in good faith to satisfy government expectations. Shifting goalposts have left us playing catch-up on an issue that is of great importance to local communities in Southampton, including the business community.”
“We have advised [the government’s joint air-quality unit] of the various issues that [have] prevent[ed] us from submitting a robust plan by 15 September… It is our view that the risk of legal challenge is more likely to delay delivery of improvements rather than missing the immediate deadline set by government."