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Is there a climate change benefit from lockdown?

Global carbon emissions are likely to see their steepest fall this year since the second world war, according to researchers who say coronavirus lockdown measures have already cut them by nearly a fifth. But the team warns that the dramatic drop won’t slow climate change. Read more

So has the COVID-19 pandemic had some positive consequences which the public can continue to support…for example, supporting cycling and walking measures being introduced…without public consultation?

To mitigate the economic impact of the virus, the Government has announced a £2 billion package of infrastructure investment to reduce the numbers of people using public transport on their return to work. To speed this investment they have introduced new statutory guidance to enable local councils to put temporary schemes in place including widening of pedestrian footpaths as well as dedicated and protected cycle paths. Liverpool and Leicester Councils have already introduced such schemes emergency responses to the pandemic.

So, as an Institute we’ve had a gander at the new additional statutory guidance in relation to the Traffic Management Duty of the Local Transport Authority within the Traffic Management Act 2004, (get us).

The guidance suggests ‘some of the measures will require Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) others not’ and, guess what it’s not clear which will and won’t. The categories of measures are:

  • permanent schemes, usually major schemes which will require prior TRO consultation as per consultation practice
  • experimental schemes, again usually major schemes which are likely to need TRO consultation in long term
  • temporary schemes. Most of the covid19 emergency measures are likely to be temporary. These will only require a TRO after 18 months

TROs have a set of regulations which accompany them about advertising road closures, and the guidance has advice on advertising during lockdown.

We, therefore, think the key issue is that temporary /emergency traffic management changes can be brought in without consultation. However, this doesn’t mean previous guidance, case law and legitimate expectation of consultation can be ignored in the long term (and long term is 18 months tops), and public consultation will be necessary for most schemes. Indeed although schemes may be widely supported by both their use and feedback from residents, councils would still be minded to monitor public opinion about any temporary measures to inform their future decision-making process. We must remember that even the precipitous drop in emissions in the last quarter will make little impact on climate change unless transport use is maintained.

As recently highlighted by tCI’s briefing on the Government Exit Plan, the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and indeed the need to undertake all impact assessments, including environmental impacts, still apply.

TCI have experienced associates who are familiar with both transport legislation/climate change and engagement and consultation law. If you are considering introducing any schemes under this new guidance, please contact us for a free assessment of your consultation requirements.

About the Author

Andy is an experienced NHS Manager, formerly an Assistant Director of Public Health and Head of Patient and Public Engagement in the North West of England.

Read more about Andy

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