This was a great announcement by Birmingham on the 24th February. Its Blueprint for Low Carbon Infrastructure was published and sets down some key principles for city infrastructures to lead the introduction of more sustainable transport. It makes a number of key recommendations, including:
- Encourage and contribute to uptake of low carbon vehicles
- Use planning guidance to deliver strategy recommendations for infrastructure
- Work closely with private fleets on demonstration and deployment activities for low carbon vehicles
- Make land available for infrastructure providers
- Streamline planning processes for renewable fuel production and infrastructure
- Include low carbon fuels for transport into the development of energy system strategies
This is an important step forward building on the existing electric vehicle charging points in Birmingham. Hopefully the Blueprint will be able to take advantage and guide the application of the £43m of funds announced just a couple of days later by the Depertment for Transport.
But it also makes you wonder about how joined up national policy is when it comes to air quality and low carbon transport as Government has just rejected some of the recommendations of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, which suggested some excellent proposals to improve air quality throughout the country, but especially in cities. Amongst recommendations rejected were
- to “make it impossible to build new schools, care homes or health clinics near existing air pollution hot spots” by changing planning laws. But in their response, ministers said there was no need for additional planning rules. They pointed out that filters can be fitted to schools’ ventilation systems to “provide cleaner air”. NB – I don’t see how you can fit filters to school playgrounds!
- to apply taxes on diesel vehicles designed to reduce air pollution, but Government said it would consider setting up a network of low-emission zones to improve air quality.
It is also gratifying to see the work of the European Electromobility Stakeholder Forum, which brings together the three flagship electromobility projects of the European Commission, Green eMotion, FREVUE and ZeEUS. It was the 3rd edition of this event and welcomed more than 200 European electromobility experts and representatives from industry, regional, national and European public authorities, transport agencies, utilities, research institutes and academia.
The Forum underlines that the Blueprint which Birmingham has prepared is in line with european funding criteria, and so there should be the opportunity to work more closely in partnership with other cities on the roll out of low carbon transport infrastructure.