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Decarbonising rural transport

Find out how officers in Cambridgeshire are exploring the issues affecting and influencing rural transport in relation to decarbonisation.

This case study is a part of the LGA's Decarbonising Transport Action Learning Sets (ALS) programme

What is the challenge? 

What has become conventional thinking in decarbonising transport revolves around mode shift from private car to public transport or active travel, a move to electric cars, or removing trips by working from home. These approaches tend to be focused on urban areas where there may be a critical mass of people to support public transport services, neighbourhoods may be walkable or services located within walking or cycling distance, or there may be sufficient journeys to justify transport infrastructure investment through a traditional business case approach.

These ideas seem more difficult to apply in rural areas where populations are dispersed, public transport networks are expensive to provide, distances may be too great to walk or cycle, and it is harder to make a case for longer distance, lower use cycleways. There may also be areas where there are low incomes or poor access to employment which make electric cars unaffordable.

Different solutions or approaches are needed.

As a result of the action learning set programme what actions will you now take to address the challenge? 

From conversations in the action learning sets, initial research work looking at available data from a wide range of sources will be undertaken to explore what issues exist in rural areas in terms of demographics, accessibility and transport, how/if journeys could be decarbonised, and whether new models or projects could be developed or tested. This will include an assessment of the relative importance of transport as a carbon generator to sense check the scale of the issue compared to other factors like land use.

What will be the impact? 

Depending on the results of the work it is hoped that case studies or repeatable projects could be developed and brought forwards for funding, further assessment, or evaluation; or resources can be focused where there will be the most benefit.

How will you look to sustain the approach in the long term? 

Embedding an approach to decarbonisation in policy and through strategies while also working with other partners to explore ideas and share knowledge.

Lessons learned 

There aren’t any easy answers out there that can be easily mapped onto your area.