21 May 1997 The Editor of The Guardian
I agree with your leading article, the Government needs to show that it is taking the environment seriously. The Road Traffic Reduction Bill became Law on 21 March 1997. It was originally intended to force the Secretary of State for Transport to plan the road and rail network in a coordinated fashion by requiring him to set and meet targets for the restraint of road traffic growth. It was intended that these targets should be a 5% reduction from 1990 levels by the year 2005 and a 10% reduction from 1990 levels by 2010. Unfortunately the Bill was modified so that it requires only local and regional traffic targets to be set but does not require the national targets in the original bill to be met – these were apparently too controversial to become law in the shortened session before the General Election. There is an opportunity here for the Government to act decisively on the environment by amending the Road Traffic Reduction Act to reinstate its original requirements. If the traffic reduction targets were to be fed into the Ministry of Transport’s COBA computer program for assessing the costs and benefits of proposed new roads they would stop most of them being built!
Richard Bomford Pembury, Tunbridge Wells. (firstname.lastname@example.org)