WCC Undermines Its Own Climate Emergency Plan

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Today Winchester City Council approved a new multi-story Park and Ride site at Bar End.  They state that the “Vaultex P&R is a priority action on the [...] Carbon Neutrality Action Plan“.  But this statement is completely illogical, it demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of the approach required to address the climate emergency. 

Park and Ride does not reduce carbon emissions, in fact it is well understood that it does the very opposite, it increases carbon emissions by embedding car use rather than public transport and active travel. 

To make matters worse the embodied carbon from the construction of a building that can only ever be used as a car park will lead to further unacceptable and unnecessary increases in carbon emissions.

The council objected to the expansion of Southampton airport on the grounds of increased carbon emissions, it is therefore extremely hypocritical to approve a new car park that will also significantly increase carbon emissions. 

Moreover, in the council's Carbon Neutrality Action Plan they committed to assessing every major project for carbon emissions.  This did not happen.  No assessment whatsoever was completed.

The council has declared a climate emergency.  Now was the time to act accordingly and they failed on several counts.

What's wrong with ParK & Ride?  More from Winchester Friends of the Earth 

Our objection on the basis of Winchester City transport is that this scheme does not serve the declared aim of the Movement Strategy to reduce traffic in Winchester City.  The simple evidence of this is that none of the previous Park and Ride schemes has had the effect of reducing traffic in the City.  The reason for this is well known.  For every provision of P&R facilities, except perhaps the small original Bar End scheme, the Council has given assurances to the public, to Inquiry Inspectors and to Highways England that equivalent amounts of parking would be removed  from central car parks.  In addition a promise was made that the St Peter’s car park constructed as temporary provision, would be removed at the time of the opening of the Brooks multi-storey car park.  These promises have not been kept - almost no central car parking has been removed and additional publicly available car parking has actually been added to the City.  There are outstanding promises of car park removal totalling around 1400 spaces.

The major issue is that this scheme is clearly contrary to the declared aims of the Council’s Action Plan on the Climate Emergency.  Park and Ride, if done properly (which has never been the case in Winchester) can have the effect of reducing traffic in a town, but all the evidence shows that it has the effect of increasing the total level of traffic within the wider area.  It has the particular effect of modal shift in the wrong direction – i.e. conventional public transport journeys transfer to car journeys.

Road transport is the biggest contributor to the District’s carbon footprint.  The Council may seek to excuse itself from tackling regional traffic crossing its area, but it can have no excuse for knowingly and deliberately taking measures that will increase road traffic emissions in the District itself. 

No carbon calculations ahave been provided.  No explanation is given in the application documents about whether or how the additional carbon that this scheme will generate will be offset by other measures.  The report makes preposterous assertions that it does not even pretend to justify.