CPRE Surrey has responded to the County Council’s draft Transport Plan. In its submission, the Branch expresses concern that insufficient attention is given in the Plan to the transport needs of the rural parts of the county. The Branch also questions the draft Plan’s failure to address traffic-related environmental impacts other than air pollution, such as noise and vibration and visual intrusion.
READ ON FOR THE FULL TEXT OF THE CPRE SURREY RESPONSE TO THE DRAFT SURREY TRANSPORT PLAN:
CPRE Surrey is a charity that campaigns for a sustainable future for the county’s countryside. We have a number of comments to make on the various consultation documents related to the draft Surrey Transport Plan. As a general observation, we believe that consideration should have been given to the preparation of a specific “Rural Transport Strategy” for Surrey. For example, there is a need to de-clutter many roads in rural areas of unnecessary signage. We note that this is not covered within any of the Transport Plan documents we have seen to date and we suggest that this issue should be covered somewhere within the Plan.
We note that a consultation paper has been prepared on air pollution but wonder why this was not extended to include other traffic-related environmental impacts such as noise and vibration and visual intrusion.
Passenger Transport Strategy: Part 1 – Local Bus
We are concerned that the particular transport needs of those living in the more rural parts of the county, and who have no immediate access to the car, have been largely overlooked in this document and, in particular, in the Preferred Strategy set out in Section 7. For example, it is likely that the withdrawal from September 2011 of school special bus services, referred to in paragraph 5.1.3, will have a disproportionate impact on young people and their families in rural areas. Already, there is inadequate capacity on some scheduled bus services used by schoolchildren in areas such as Reigate and Banstead and Epsom and Ewell, a situation that will only be exacerbated by the withdrawal of school special bus services. We suggest that the prioritisation strategy set out in paragraph 7.3 should include a specific reference to the needs of those living in the more rural parts of Surrey. We note that the County Council’s ongoing bus review will result in changes to bus routes but will not be concluded until September 2012, so it is difficult to comment on the overall impact of future changes in bus provision in rural areas. What can be said is that in places where the bus review has already taken place, for example in Reigate and Banstead, bus routes have been diverted and curtailed to the detriment of those living in rural areas.
CPRE Surrey believes that there should be a wide ranging debate about the merits or otherwise of specific park and ride proposals in the county. In the past, we have had particular concerns about the potentially adverse impacts on the countryside of the location of some park and ride facilities. These concerns are not reflected in paragraph 7.5, which simply suggests that “further park and ride sites are being investigated” south west of Guildford and close to Redhill-Reigate. In particular, it is unclear to CPRE why the Manor Park park and ride facility south west of Guildford, which is specifically referred to in the document, has not been progressed to date when provision was allowed for this in the expansion plans of the University of Surrey.
Passenger Transport Strategy: Part 2 – Information
We suggest that the supply of passenger transport information to those living in the county’s rural areas should not rely entirely on web-based information.
Air Quality Strategy
Air quality issues related to transport are concentrated within urban areas. However, the consultation document does acknowledge that air pollution has both direct effects on vegetation and indirect effects on the acid and nutrient status of soils and waters. The rural impacts of traffic-related air pollution need to be borne in mind in any air quality strategy, for example the impact of particulate pollution from lorries close to mineral workings and waste facilities that are located in the countryside, particularly when these are additional to particulate problems arising at the facilities themselves.
It is particularly difficult to provide useful comments on this strategy as there is no indication of just where the most severe congestion problems are to be found. Congestion is clearly a wide scale problem throughout much of the county. It is now widely recognised that the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel in Spring 2011 will result in an extra three thousand vehicles per day using the A3 through Guildford; that part of the A3 east of its junction with the A31 is only two lane in each direction and is clearly already inadequate. Another area of congestion of concern to CPRE Surrey is the junction of the M25 with the A3.
CPRE Surrey continues to be very concerned about the impact of freight vehicles on Surrey’s rural road network. We welcome the inclusion in the freight strategy of the objective “to reduce incidences of lorries diverting along unsuitable lower category roads when not being used for access”. In particular, we were pleased to note that the freight strategy refers to the need to protect vulnerable country lanes from unnecessary use by large vehicles. CPRE Surrey would wish to see a more comprehensive “Unsuitable for HGVs” signing policy in the more rural parts of the county, more monitoring of local lorry movements in the countryside, and an aggressive approach to disseminating information to freight operators and satnav companies concerning the inappropriateness of using certain rural roads for cargo movements.
CPRE Surrey would be very concerned if sharp rises in parking charges in market towns and other smaller urban centres were to result in further declines in the attractiveness and prosperity of such centres and the growth of “out of town” retail facilities in the countryside.