Transport Decarbonisation Plan: 9 key points for the South West

A cluster of key policy documents have been issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) relating to decarbonisation of the transportation sector.  

The Government has described its central Transport Decarbonisation Plan as the world’s first ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050.

The other key publications are:

In response, Peter Kydd, Chair of SWIP, said:

“The publication of the Transportation Decarbonisation Plan and associated documents is very much welcomed, and it will be studied in depth by infrastructure professionals to understand the implications going forward. The geography of the South West presents a number of challenges in how transport is decarbonised, particularly for rural communities. We hope that the Government recognises this and provides particular support to overcome these challenges. Our Integrating Net Zero Route Map articulates a way forward for the South West to act as a champion of decarbonisation and provide a learning platform for the rest of the UK.”

SWIP is highlighting nine key points for the region following an initial review of Transport Decarbonisation Plan and its related documents:

  • Rail electrification is likely to be the main way of decarbonising rail journeys because it not only decarbonises the network but is also successful in attracting more passengers.
  • The DfT will publish a pipeline of future rail electrification schemes.
  • The plan outlines proposals to support a move from road and air travel to rail and is committed to the construction of new lines to meet future rail demand.
  • A shift from road and air to rail is also outlined by the Plan including freight, where Network Rail and Highways England are working together on a joint Solent to Midlands Freight Strategy.
  • The Plan also supports the further development of HS2 and will publish The Integrated Rail Plan covering the next stages of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Support is provided for light rail in urban centres, noting that it has the potential to be an environmentally-sound local transport solution in its own right as well as bringing societal, economic, and environmental benefits
  • There will be a review of the National Policy Statement (NPS) on National Networks, the Government’s statement of strategic planning policy for major road and rail schemes, as it was published before the Government’s legal commitment to net zero, the 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the new Sixth Carbon Budget and Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Until then, the current NPS remains in force. It is unlikely that a new NPS will come into effect until the post-pandemic conditions have stabilised and forecasts updated.
  • On aviation, there is a commitment to jet zero with majority of proposals focused on developments in hydrogen planes and cleaner fuels. It also states that “expansion of any airport must meet its climate change obligations to be able to proceed”.  It doesn’t follow the CCC’s recommendation of offsetting expansion at strategic airports by reducing flights elsewhere but instead suggests that new fuels and technologies will achieve similar or greater reductions in emissions than the CCC’s proposals.
  • The plan contains a commitment to ensure that the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure network meets the demands of its users and includes investment of £1.3bn over the next four years to accelerate the pace of charge point rollout.  A Strategy for EV Infrastructure will be published later this year.

Anyone interested in working with the South West Infrastructure Partnership on the decarbonisation of transport and other infrastructure issues in the region is encouraged to register as a SWIP contributor.