Did you know that in North Yorkshire more carbon emissions are created by transport than anything else, and that more than three quarters of this comes from cars and vans? It’s probably not that surprising when you think about the increasing congestion on key routes in and out of Harrogate.
Despite the traffic, jumping in the car is often seen as a quickest convenient option when we need to get somewhere. At Zero Carbon Harrogate we often hear from people who want to reduce their car use but are really put off by the alternatives - we understand where they’re coming from. Some of our public transport is expensive and often unreliable and inconvenient. Walking alongside heavily polluted roads on pothole-ridden footpaths isn’t particularly pleasant, or quick. And the cycle infrastructure in our town is practically non-existent.
Travel is an essential part of our modern lives but we all have to reduce the number of car journeys we take if we’re to limit the most damaging effects of the climate crisis. The science is clear; we must limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C otherwise the impact on our health and communities will be disastrous. The heat waves of last summer would become normal; both extreme drought and flooding would be commonplace; food supplies would be threatened and crucial ecosystems would be lost forever.
With each year that passes, the 1.5°C target is looking worryingly unachievable – scientists have predicted that it could be exceeded this decade. But there is still hope if we work together. We must all make changes in our everyday lives and put pressure on government and businesses, to make positive, sustainable changes in our communities.
Up to now, North Yorkshire Council (and North Yorkshire County Council before them) have failed to create an ambitious vision for low carbon transport in Harrogate. Now they’re running a public consultation, called Let’s Talk Transport, to help shape the priorities of a new Local Transport Plan.
Zero Carbon Harrogate is calling on NYC to put carbon reduction and sustainability at the heart of transport planning. We want to see our council take a true leadership role and deliver bold, innovative solutions, using cutting edge best-practice adapted to meet the needs of local people. We need a fully integrated approach that makes it easier, safer and more enjoyable to walk, cycle or use shared or public transport. Crucially we need our council to inspire and reassure local people about the benefits of a more sustainable approach to transport.
From speeding traffic, to air pollution, expensive buses or lack of cycle lanes; whatever it is that most concerns you about transport in our town, now is the chance to have your say. Visit www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk to read our briefing paper on the consultation and find out how to complete it. The deadline is 17 July.
Jemima Parker, Chair, Zero Carbon Harrogate