National Roads Authority crashing into climate policy – An Taisce
Road-building agency working contrary to Government policy on emissions reduction
Last week’s publication by the EPA of Ireland’s 2013 greenhouse gas emission figures came just in advance of the climate summit in Lima, Peru.
During 2013 transport emissions increased 2.1% over 2012 levels, and now make up 20% of the national total.
Emissions from electricity generation fell. However, transport emissions, combined with increases from agriculture and heating, have put Ireland on a clear path to breach the EU 202O targets - unless concerted action is taken straight away.
In 2009 the Department of Transport published Smarter Travel - A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009 -2020. This policy document includes targets to ensure that by 2020 the total kilometres travelled by the national car fleet does not exceed 2009 levels, and that workplace single-car commuting travel reduces to 45% (from around 65% today), a provision helped by cycle journeys rising to 10% (under the parallel National Cycling Policy Framework).
These targets will not be met because the National Roads Authority is working contrary to government policy. The NRA is pursuing investment such as the over-scaled Gort - Tuam motorway and widening the M7 between Naas and Newbridge by adding extra lanes. An Bord Pleanala and the National Transport Authority (NTA) appear to be rubber-stamping the failure to implement agreed national policy.
Far too much new retail and employment development continues to be car based. Here local authorities and An Bord Pleanala are systemically flouting Smarter Travel. This is shown by consents to swell the size of the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in south Dublin, Kildare Village and car parking at Dublin Airport, along with more than 700 new car spaces for a wholly car-dependent new premises for the Kerry Group outside Naas.
Ireland continues to one of the most car dependent countries in the EU. Apart from climate impact, current failed car-oriented construction is putting Ireland directly on a path back to chronic congestion and high levels of local air pollution, all of which contribute to asthma, bronchitis together with more complex respiratory and coronary ailments.
Investment by the Department of Transport needs to be re-directed to achieve a massive shift to public transport and cycling, bringing car-focused development to a halt. The legal remit of the NRA and NTA needs to be amended to enforce compliance with Smarter Travel, combined with effective planning and land use policies at all levels. Charging is required at large out of town retail car parks, as is better road use pricing.
The long-promised merger of the NRA with the Railway Procurement Agency also needs to be completed to re-channel the NRA’s undoubted energy and delivery record in a sustainable direction.
For further information, please call:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland