[I don’t usually do this, but: this email brings such bad tidings of the true colours of our government, that I just had to publish it… . It is from Jason Torrance, of the excellent Campaign for Better Transport. SPREAD THE WORD!]
Soon the Government could tell us exactly how much the survival of this bluebell wood is worth, in pounds and pence. Our rivers and hedgerows, our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, all could be given price tags.
British landscape under threat
I think some things are priceless, so I find the Government proposal to assign a monetary value to our landscape hard to swallow. If you feel the same way, don’t despair: Campaign for Better Transport is fighting to stop it from happening.
The proposal comes out of the Government’s review of the way it assesses whether transport schemes (such as new roads) should go ahead. The transport appraisal process is heavily biased towards roadbuilding, so we’re glad it’s being reviewed, but we’re also very concerned about some of the Government’s suggested changes. We think they could make things even worse, leading us towards more roads and less public transport.
At the core of the transport appraisal process is the idea of cost-benefit analysis. The Government weighs up the costs of a proposed transport scheme (such as how much a new road will cost to build) against the benefits (such as the time it will save drivers) and comes up with a figure, either positive or negative, which determines whether the scheme goes ahead. So far, so good… until we looked a bit more closely at how these costs and benefits are calculated.
Our findings make for a shocking read. We’ve sent them to the Government, and I thought you should see them too.
What we found out
Our first shocking finding: If projections show that a scheme will result in more fuel being used, this is classed as a benefit. Yes, you read that correctly: the transport appraisal process favours schemes that lead to increased fuel use. Why? Because more fuel sales mean more fuel duty for the Government. This crazy logic means schemes that increase traffic, air pollution and CO2 get a big thumbs up.
Our second shocking finding: Cyclists and bus users are given a lower value than drivers, because it’s assumed that we make less contribution to the economy. I mentioned earlier that if a scheme saves drivers’ time, this is calculated as a benefit. Fair enough. But while one minute of a driver’s time is valued at 44p, a minute of a bus-user’s time is valued at 34p. And a cyclist’s minute is apparently worth just 28p. This chilling assessment of our worth gives the Government little incentive to spend money on us lowly bus-users and cyclists.
Our third shocking finding: The transport appraisal process already assigns a monetary value to CO2 emissions, noise pollution and even the lives lost in road accidents. Now the Government is proposing putting a price tag on our landscape too. In other words, things that should be priceless are cynically traded against fuel duty revenue and time-savings for drivers.
We’ve told the Government that these shockingly biased elements of the transport appraisal process must be changed immediately.
Spread the word: don’t let the Government get away with it
If you’re as shocked as I am by our findings, please do just one thing: forward this email to your friends. The Government’s crazy logic has gone relatively unchallenged up ’til now because very few people have known about it. We need to change that.
Forward this email to your friends now
Thanks for spreading the word!
Campaign for Better Transport