Environment: Action urged to curb traffic growth

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The Independent Online
Private car use will keep on rising, along with the harm it does society, unless Government takes much firmer action to prevent it, ministerial advisers warn today. The UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, set up after the Rio Earth Summit to advise the Government on long-term economic and environmental issues, reached its conclusions after making a study of Northampton, a fast growing town near the M1 whose inhabitants and businesses are more car-dependent than the average.

Although the county and borough (town) councils had good intentions and wanted people to make more use of public transport, bicycles and walking, economic realities dictated otherwise. The councils either lacked the powers needed to act decisively in favour of more environmentally friendly forms of transport or feared that if they did important local businesses would desert Northampton for other, more car friendly towns.

The report singles out Barclaycard, which employs 2,500 in Northampton. It moved from the town centre to a new site, on the edge of town, which was poorly served by public transport, causing a large increase in car travel. The council did not dare to decline planning permission for the move.

Getting Around Town, UK Round Table Secretariat, Room P1/021, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 3EB.

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