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Roads to Nowhere

London Plan will increase traffic and pollution in the capital

22 July 2011
The London Plan, which is published today (22 July), does nothing to tackle the volume of traffic in the capital and in fact promotes more car use, according to Campaign for Better Transport.

The sustainable transport charity warns that the plan, which sets out an integrated environmental, economic, transport and social framework for London for the next 20 to 25 years, will increase traffic and pollution levels and reduce the quality of life for Londoners.

Richard Bourn, Campaign for Better Transport’s London campaigner, said: “Boris Johnson says he wants more people to walk and cycle but the London Plan shows he’s still intent on facilitating car use. He’s simply not willing to tackle the volume of traffic on London’s roads. Somebody is going to have to do this sooner or later otherwise or the prediction of a 14 per cent increase in traffic congestion over the period of the plan may prove to be an underestimate. This has serious implications for London’s carbon emissions and for its ability to compete with cities offering a higher quality of life.”

A number of recommendations in the official inspectors’ report in May and put forward by Campaign for Better Transport, were rejected by the Mayor and did not make it into the final plan. This includes re-instating the road user hierarchy which places the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and buses first in planning before considering the needs of motorists (6.1) and creating a stronger policy in favour of road user charging should it be needed (6.11)

The plan does, however retain a number of policies which have come under criticism from environmental organisations. These include increasing overall road capacity in the capital by “smoothing traffic flow” (6.11); allowing more parking in town centres and at new office developments (6.13); and endorsing new road crossings of the river, despite their high cost and their impacts on the environment and on higher traffic levels for those living nearby (Table 6.3).

These policies threaten to undermine the positive aspects of the London Plan which recommends ways to reduce the need to travel and to protect local shops and services.