I have long supported initiatives to reduce our impact on our climate and to look after our Natural environment. I helped found and chaired the Bristol Environment and Energy Trust in the 1990’s and my vision for this region published in 2010 (2050 High in Hope) recognised the importance of reducing our carbon footprint – now more urgent than ever -and ways of valuing our environment .
All my Metro Mayor policies will look to reduce our impact on climate change and look to the opportunities that such an approach can provide. My policies will also look to preserve and enhance the high quality natural environment which is such a strength of our Region.
My transport remit as Metro Mayor will include the setting up of a combined transport authority which will facilitate a more accessible, efficient and better integrated public transport network. I will expect all busses to be hybrids and in due course all-electric busses will be the norm. My proposed trams on key high usage routes, essential if we are to have the necessary future capacity, are themselves energy efficient and more sustainable long term as they have a much longer life than a bus. These measures will also reduce emissions and air pollution.
I will encourage a more joined up approach to cycling provision.
Not all journeys can be by walking, cycling, bus, train or tram, but with additional Park and Ride facilities to Bath and Bristol (much delayed by current fragmentation) we can significantly reduce commuting car journeys and associated pollution.
Meanwhile I will use some of the additional funds to subsidise a 1-day per week offer to enable all to use the busses, thereby reducing congestion by 15% and demonstrating to commuters the benefits of public transport alternatives to the car.
On housing, I will require that new housing should be of good quality with high environmental performance and reasonable space standards to ensure flexibility over time. I will require that they are built in sustainable communities at least 50 d.p.h., with all necessary facilities and linked to good public transport. Residents will be within 10 minutes’ walk of a high speed bus or tram avoiding the need for the daily commute by car. This both increases good health and reduces emissions.
On skills and the economy, I recognise the significant opportunities in the low carbon and high tec sectors to provide local employment, but we need training in appropriate skills for the jobs of the future and making this training accessible and attractive to all. Good employment is key to a sustainable quality of life to those in our disadvantaged communities.
Businesses also need good access to information on how to save energy and thereby their costs and emissions, building on existing local initiatives.
The natural environment in this part of England is a great asset which must be preserved and indeed enhanced. Brownfield land must be prioritised for development. In my review of development to cope with the growth in housing and employment land I would look to preserve and enhance our landscape assets. There are also opportunities to improve both the quality of landscape and its recreational quality – e.g. on the Dundry slopes, or in areas of green belt of lower environmental quality. I would take the advice of the regional experts in this field and support initiatives that will ensure a viable future for our natural environment, encouraging its bio diversity and its educational benefits and with good accessibility for all.