Fleet News

Companies slammed for failing to reduce car use

A DAMNING attack has been launched on companies which are 'trapped in a company car culture' and refuse to plough resources into reducing car use. Experts launched the offensive at the second in a series of free 'green' seminars, organised by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which are being held throughout the UK over the next two months.

The seminars are promoting the new Government guide 'Preparing Your Organisation for the Future: The Benefits of Green Transport Plans', that was launched last month with a warning from junior transport minister Lord Whitty that businesses must think green to avoid soaring transport costs. At the latest seminar, held at the Government Office for the West Midlands, in Birmingham, speakers attacked companies which have only paid-lip service to green transport plans to enhance their corporate image, although they stopped short of 'naming and shaming' the companies responsible.

Experts claimed that an estimated 50 or 60 private companies throughout the UK have launched a green transport plan, with hundreds of others opting for a more piecemeal approach since Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott published his ambitious integrated transport white paper last year. Consultancy firm Oscar Faber, the author of the new GTP guide, called for a fundamental rethink among British business of the use and provision of company cars.

At the Birmingham event, attended by about 50 companies and local authorities, including the British Airports Authority, Colin Black, senior consultant to Oscar Faber, said: 'It is amazing how often a GTP becomes ostracised to a stagnant backwater of the company where it has no real effect. is much easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. The term 'greenwash' has been coined to describe companies which make all the right noises, but do very little to change transport behaviour.

'Though often an organisation starts enthusiastically and gets some easy wins, then it becomes a 'greenwash' and when the policy is reviewed, it becomes clear the company has achieved very little. Companies are looking at each other hoping others will take the lead. Many organisations see car travel as a valid function of work, but the car culture closes their eyes to the costs involved and the benefits of other options'.

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