Went to a Friends of the Earth meeting tonight(1). It was arranged so we could learn more about the new plans for “Airport City” (see previous MCFly story here) and the road that will – if/when it is built, at a cost of one billionish quid – connect the Airport to Junction 23 of the M60. It goes by the catchy name of South East Manchester multi-modal strategy (SEMMMS).
The presentation, by a CPRE person, was admirably clear, and came with helpful handouts. Inevitably, though, there was the usual bewildering array of local development frameworks this and planning policy frameworks that. Apparently the new planning policy framework, which is due to come out between mid-February and end of March is viewed with fear and dread by everyone who doesn’t think paving the planet is a good idea. It is assumed that this framework will be a death warrant for greenbelts everywhere and a virtual end to building on (more expensive) brownfield sites.
It is easy, tempting, to get bogged down in the minutiae, and lose sight of the wood for the soon-to-be-bulldozed trees. There are three arguments that leap out in particular, all of which will probably be swept aside/ignored, against this sort of development.
First is the one made by Keith Buchan (2) , director of the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit. Among other things he says that Enterprise Zones (of which Airport City is one) do not provide long-term employment once the special conditions (tax breaks etc) that make them attractive are withdrawn.
Secondly, the projections for growth in transport (both road and air) fail to factor in the likely impacts of peak oil.
And thirdly – in a sane world, (the one we don’t live in) – the last thing we need to be doing is to be building more carbon-intensive infrastructure. Isn’t four degrees of warming enough? What do we want, Venus?
(1) I am, to the constant (relentless) amusement of my co-editor, a member of FoE.
(2) According to a Green Alliance document, “Keith Buchan has been Executive Director of the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit(MTRU), an independent transport planning consultancy since 1989. Prior to that he worked for local authorities, including the Greater London Council where he was responsible for implementing the Night and Weekend Lorry Ban. His work has included objectives led assessment, traffic restraint, ‘new generation’ bus priority and heavy vehicle studies. Keith is now developing a UK plan to reduce carbon emissions from transport. He was a Government adviser for the 1997 national road traffic forecasts (NRTF) which contributed to NATA Phase 1.”