Letter: Wasteful lorries criss-cross Europe

Sir: Sarah Helm's article about the doubling of traffic through the Brenner Pass (4 December) touches on a wider issue, which affects every town and village in every EU country. Freedom from trade barriers has come to mean the freedom to send anything to anywhere, by road, if the supplier can make a profit. And profit to the supplier always means a loss to the environment which will never appear in the accounts.

In recent months I have been aware of sandwiches being delivered daily from Nottingham to Stuttgart; American wine being bottled in Belgium and driven to Scotland; and Bavarian potatoes being driven through the Brenner Pass to Italy to be washed, and then back again to the potato crisp factory. Any supermarket shelf will reveal the extent to which foodstuffs criss- cross Europe. And foodstuffs are only part of the problem.

Of course, free trade brings benefits, and the road builders love it. But let us not forget the cost of bypass after bypass; the motorways and tunnels; the fumes and illness; the noise and ugliness. The loss of production jobs tends to be in marginal areas, where there is little chance to create them through substitution. We are in desperate need of a European policy to ensure that road use is properly costed, across the Union.Trade would not come to a halt, but it would steer closer to sanity.


Abergavenny, Gwent