Take Action On... Transport

Transport produced 27% of the UK’s total carbon emissions in 2019. This doesn’t include international aviation which more than doubled between 1990 and 2019. Transport and environment statistics: Autumn 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As individuals, travel can be the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint depending on how we choose to travel. Aviation is a big contributor, as is cruising, and power-hungry SUVs are a real problem on our roads.

However, there are some good news stories from 2021 (Source: Flightfree.co.uk):

  • New sleeper train services launched across Europe, including from Brussels to Stockholm
  • DFDS announced a new ferry link between Scotland and Belgium
  • Companies such as Nike have adopted no-fly policies for staff

So what can we do as individuals? Here are some ways in which you can reduce your own personal carbon emissions through changing how you get around:

Take Action - Trains not Planes

We all love a holiday but some of the places we visit are the exact same countries and islands that are already suffering from sea level rise so it is our collective responsibility to ensure that these places, along with their people, wildlife and culture, are not lost forever.

Aviation is one of the biggest challenges as it is difficult to decarbonise and yet a flight is the biggest single contributor to our individual carbon footprint. The good news is that there are other ways to travel that are less carbon intensive. A journey from London to Glasgow by train only uses a third (or less) of the carbon emissions than one by plane, per traveller, and if you plan ahead can be similar in price and time.

  • In planning your next holiday, consider travelling by train rather than plane. You can get great advice on routes and pricing deals from The Man in Seat 61 | The train travel guide. It may take a bit longer but there is no waiting for security and baggage check – in, once you are settled you can relax and take a snooze, grab a cuppa and enjoy the local landscape.
  • If cost is putting you off using rail, there are a whole host of Railcards available offering different levels of discount. They cater for people of all ages including if you just want to travel off-peak or with a friend (Two-Together). National Rail Enquiries - National Railcards
  • For more tips on how to save money on train travel. Five ways to save money on train tickets - BBC News
  • If you really do love a long-haul holiday by plane, try to reduce the number of long-haul flights you take e.g. make your trip more special and take one every 5 years instead of every year, or take a 2 week trip instead of 2 x 1 week trips.
  • Swap a foreign trip for some quality time in the UK. There are some beautiful places to visit not that far from home and many places that offer activities for kids, often free, such as local parks, and museums.
  • If you are flying for business consider whether you can reduce the number of flights you need to take by using digital communications instead.
  • If you really do need to fly, travel light to reduce weight in the plane, travel standard class (more people on the plane = better use of fuel), take a direct flight, and offset your journey. (nB. Offsetting is not an easy way to allow us to keep flying as we desperately need to reduce carbon emissions in the first place, but if you really have no choice but to fly it does go some way to paying for measures to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere in the future.)
  • Flight Free UK offer inspiration for flight-free travel including weekends away and ski-iing holidays.
  • If you are already converted to a reduced/no flight life, and want more action, you can support campaigns such as those for a ‘Frequent Flyer Tax’ (in the UK 70% of flights are taken by 15% of the population) or other campaigns which aim to reduce the number of flights taken.
  • If you want to talk to your friends and family about flight-free travel, this is a good guide to how to broach the subject  Let's talk about flying — Possible (wearepossible.org)

Take Action - Choose Your Cruise

I know that many people love to cruise, to see different places and enjoy the on-board activities, however they do currently have a massive environmental impact both in terms of carbon emissions and negative effect on the ocean and it’s wildlife. So what can you do:

  • The simplest way of reducing your environmental impact is to cruise less, e.g. if you are currently cruising once a year, do it every 3-5 years instead as special treat.
  • You can also look for cruise lines that have a better environmental record.
  • ...and ask questions. The more public pressure there is, the more these organisations will change.
  • This article has some useful information How to minimise your environmental impact on a cruise – On the Luce travel blog

Take Action - A Ride On The Bus

Although most buses in the area are still diesel it is still far better to have one bus on the road than 20 or 30 cars each with one person in. Not only are carbon emissions less, there is less congestion, and need for less paved parking areas. However we need to use those buses to encourage more services for more areas. Bus travel also offers other benefits, you get to interact with people instead of sitting alone in a car and it can give you time to relax for a bit. When thinking about cost, don’t forget to take into account the wear and tear on your car and reduced need for full servicing as often. So give it a try for a week. It might work for you, it might not, but you might find you enjoy it!

  • Anyone over state pension age can apply for a free bus pass which allows you to board a bus at any time in Central Bedfordshire and travel free as far as that bus goes. Bus pass applications - apply for an older person's or disabled person's bus pass | Central Bedfordshire Council. Under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, you can also travel for free at off-peak times - 9:30am to 11:30pm on Mondays to Fridays and all day Saturdays and Sundays, anywhere in England.
  • There are three bus services operating in the Ampthill area:
    • Grant Palmer Bus Services | Grant Palmer. Did you know that Grant Palmer have an app that you can download to your smartphone? It includes:
      • A bus tracker - you can see real-time where the buses are
      • Plan your journey - put in your departure and destination and the time you want to go
      • Bus services - lists the services available
    • Flittabus Flittabus Community Transport | Flittabus Mid Beds Community Transport. Did you know for example that you can get the Flittabus from Ampthill/Maulden/Flitwick to Milton Keynes every Thursday?
    • Stagecoach. No2 bus to Bedford via the Interchange Park. From Bedford you can link to buses to Hitchin (9A/B), Northampton (41), Cambridge (905) and Oxford (X5)

Take Action - On Your Bike

  • Central Bedfordshire Council have been working with local organisations to develop cycle routes to improve car-free connectivity between towns and villages, and key public transport hubs. They have already engaged with the residents of Ampthill and Flitwick. Once the engagement process for all towns is completed, a package of schemes will be developed with residents having another opportunity to comment on a proposed Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).
  • Is your employer signed up to the Cycle to Work Scheme? Cycle to Work is a government initiative which offers employees who want to cycle to work the opportunity to get a new bike and accessories, tax-free. Cycle to Work Scheme guidance for employers (publishing.service.gov.uk)
  • Central Bedfordshire Council have installed a series of new bike repair stations for residents to use in different locations across Central Bedfordshire. The closest one to Ampthill is at the Marston Moretaine Forest Centre, but there will be installations in Ampthill and Flitwick in the future.
  • Bikeability is the government’s national cycle training programme. It helps you learn practical skills and understand how to cycle on today’s roads. Go to the website to find cycle training for you or your children. Bikeability | Cycle training for everyone delivering better and safer training
  • If you have young children, look out for Cycle to School Week around October and join others trying to make a difference.
  • There is also lots of information on the Sustrans website Home - Sustrans.org.uk

Take Action - In The Car

Whilst there are plenty of opportunities to use other means of transport, sometimes, there is little choice but to use a car. But the carbon dioxide that is emitted not only contributes to climate change but other chemicals released create local air pollution that affects us all. Reducing this is particularly important around pedestrian areas and schools. Ampthill has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to the higher than recommended pollutants in the town centre at peak times, mainly from vehicle emissions, so this is critically important for us as a community. Here are some ideas for how to take positive action:

  • Try to car-share your journey with others. Talk to friends and work colleagues to see if you can share car journeys, even if it’s only one or two days a week. Alternatively you can sign up to the Liftshare Scheme to find people to share with. Central Bedfordshire Council Liftshare community - part of the Liftshare network.
  • Think about the journey you are planning to make. Could you wait, and combine it with another errand, could you travel at a less busy time, could you use a route that does not go through a town centre?
  • Drive smarter and smoother. There are several things you can do to make your fuel last longer, and so create less emissions. Read this guide from the Energy Saving Trust. Reduce emissions through efficient driving - Energy Saving Trust
  • If you need to buy a new car, consider electric. Although expensive the prices are coming down and the range is improving. If this is not an option for you look for the most fuel efficient options and avoid power – hungry SUVs which are the most polluting.
  • Grants are available to help households with the cost of installing charging points. Office for Zero Emission Vehicles - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
  • If you are a business or charity, The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher-based scheme that provides eligible applicants with support towards the upfront costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints.

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