NEW ROADS WILL NOT REDUCE TRAFFIC
By Jamie Lyons, PA Political Correspondent
Building new roads does not cut traffic, former Tory environment
secretary John Gummer said today.
Mr Gummer is chairing David Cameron's ``quality of life'' policy
group reviewing issues such as transport and the environment. He was
environment secretary at the time work started on the
controversial Newbury bypass 10 years ago.
"You do not reduce traffic by building new roads,'' he said
today. "There is no doubt about it - there must be an assumption
road-building,'' he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
Mr Gummer said sometimes the traffic and resulting local
environmental damage in a particular area was so bad that a bypass
was the answer. But he added: "You can only do that against a very
background, which is that you are reducing traffic overall by taking
sensible measures, many of which we are not taking now.''
Mr Gummer said it would be wrong to pre-judge the findings of his
group, which are not expected for 18 months. But he said his guiding
principle was that it was impossible to
continue polluting the atmosphere and destroying the climate.
He said that meant vehicles had to be made cleaner and more people
had to be taken off the roads or on to public transport.
He said his group would look at everything afresh. But he would not
be afraid if that meant admitting the party had made mistakes in the
"I am always happy to say that we are wrong in all
circumstances,'' he said. "But what I am much happier to do is to say
'This is the way
forward', having learned our lessons from the way in which we have
behaved in the past, which might have been right at the time, but is
not right now. The one thing you won't get me to do is to suggest we
forward and change simply because it means some will say 'Well, you
didn't do that 30 years ago'. That would be a very peculiar kind of
reform, wouldn't it?'"