London, 6 Jan 1997.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Lib Dem / FoE ally to drive you out of your car
Private member's bill proposes ill thought-out reductions in road traffic
The Association of British Drivers has unearthed information relating to a private member's bill, the Road Traffic Reduction Act, which receives its second reading on 24 January 1997. The bill proposes that government and local councils implement strategies to reduce road traffic by 5 per cent on 1990 levels by 2005 and by 10 per cent by 2010. These reductions are alleged to be essential to improve air quality and reduce congestion. The bill is sponsored by Bath MP Don Foster and is being drafted for Mr. Foster by Ron Bailey of Friends of the Earth.

This bill has received neither extensive media coverage nor public exposure. It is the work of a tiny minority of extremists who are more anti-car than pro-environment. It is only receiving political support because there is an all-party conspiracy in favour of bleeding the motorist as a means of avoiding politically unpalatable increases in direct taxation. It is also - and most crucially - flawed on scientific grounds:

All currently available evidence shows that emissions from petrol road vehicles play no significant role in the growth in the incidence of breathing disorders. Air quality is now better than at any time in the last 100 years. Road transport emissions peaked in 1990 and, by 2010 (even assuming no further improvements in emissions abatement technology), road transport emissions will be around one-quarter of their current levels - whatever the rate of traffic growth. A modern car is so clean that driving from Stockholm to Rome and back - twice - emits no more VOC's than does the use of one-and-a-half litres of conventional solvent-based gloss paint!

The reason for the ever-present congestion on Britain's roads is not primarily traffic growth. The government claims it is impossible to build enough roads to satisfy the growth in traffic but the truth is that it has never tried: Britain has over many years invested a lower proportion of GDP in roads than any of its major European partners or, indeed, than many of the emerging, less developed European nations. A recent independent report by the European Centre for Infrastructure Studies has concluded that the quality and quantity of Britain's roads, relative to our traffic levels, has now declined so far as to put us on a par with Poland and Spain. These nations can legitimately claim - unlike the UK - that they have experienced explosive traffic growth in recent years. For the UK's deceitful, incompetent politicians and bureaucrats there is no hiding place: our traffic problems lie fairly and squarely at their doors.

Seeking to cap traffic growth in some misguided attempt to court favour with the Greens will do no more than seal our fate as a nation in steady economic decline. Indeed, it will accelerate the slide, while all our major European competitors will outstrip us and we will even be left behind by Greece and Poland. Ultimately, the electorate will be feel betrayed and angry when they realise that their future economic prosperity is being be sacrificed at the altar of Political Correctness.


Notes for Editors