Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak, by Chris McAndrew, Licence CC BY 3.0

Yesterday’s Budget was the first delivered by new Chancellor Rishi Sunak. It was a high-carbon Budget, with a huge splurge on road-building and zero investment in active travel.

£27bn is a massive sum to spend on main roads. Transport is already the biggest single contributor to UK carbon emissions, and 90% of transport emissions are from roads.

New or widened roads are known to induce more traffic, so as well as destroying countryside, the Budget will increase our climate-damaging emissions. It must be doubtful whether that’s compatible with the UK’s legally binding carbon reduction obligations.

Sustrans were disappointed, with CEO Xavier Brice commenting that the government hasn’t committed to any new funding for active travel.

There was yet another disappointment locally, as the Budget allocated money from the existing Transforming Cities Fund.

Improvements to access to Harrogate station, and the Knaresborough to Harrogate cycleway, were included in a bid by West Yorkshire Combined Authorities. Some money was allocated to West Yorkshire. As I understand it, £7.9m will go to Harrogate station improvements, but nothing to the cycleway.

In summary:

  • there don’t appear to be any positives in this Budget
  • the government has taken another disastrous step on the road to climate breakdown, and doesn’t seem to understand the urgency and gravity of the problem
  • we have to look at the government’s actions on the environment, not its rhetoric, and judge it accordingly
£27bn for roads and £0.00 for cycling in Budget

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