Fleet News

Whitehall's green plan 'failures' exposed

THE Government must strengthen the powers of transport supremos in its departments to ensure the most environmentally-friendly fleet and travel policies are pursued, according to Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake. He is investigating the efforts made by Government departments to reduce their staff's car dependency, and exposing the shortfall between what Ministers said in Opposition and what they have done in power.

'I am trying to establish whether the Government is serious about road traffic reduction by looking at what individual departments are doing to cut their car use,' said Brake, who represents Carshalton & Wallington. In December 1996 an Early Day Motion in support of a road traffic reduction bill was signed by 239 MPs, including eight who are now green ministers charged with the implementation of environmentally-friendly fleet practices and policies within their departments.

These include Jeff Rooker at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Dawn Primarolo in the Chancellor's Departments, Mark Fisher at the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport, John Battle at the Department of Trade & Industry, Peter Kilfoyle at the Cabinet Office, Glenda Jackson at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Win Griffiths at the Welsh Office, and Kim Howells at the Department of Education and Employment.

With alternative methods of transport to the car at the heart of the Government's integrated transport policy white paper, which is a year old this week, Brake has now asked each Government department how many kilometres its staff have travelled in each of the past three years, broken down by foot, bike, bus, train, tram, light rail, plane, motorbike, car, taxi, river-taxi, and other modes of transport. He believes the Government should set targets for cutting the carbon dioxide produced by the transport sector, and then look at 'strengthening the powers of transport supremos across Government departments to see how it can deliver CO2 reductions.'

Early replies to his questions have produced dramatic variations in departments' green travel credentials, with the Welsh Office not even having a green transport plan, despite the appointment of Griffiths as green minister. Most departments have at least made reference to their green travel plans, with some also setting targets to reduce single car occupancy for commuting and business travel.

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