Fuel duty cut a ‘huge missed opportunity’ to support active travel

11.22 | 5 May 2022 | | 2 comments

“The long-term solution to rising prices at the pumps is to reduce our fuel-dependency by investing in public transport and active travel to give people realistic alternatives to jumping into their car.”

That’s the verdict of Cycling UK, following a new report which examines the Government’s move to cut fuel duty by 5p per litre in response to the cost-of-living crisis, effective from March 2022 to March 2023.

It is estimated that the move will save £2.4bn – equivalent to three times the current designated active travel infrastructure investment of £738.5m per year across the UK.

The report questions whether equivalent spending in active travel infrastructure would offer better value for money by replacing high-carbon miles driven with low-carbon miles walked and cycled.

It concludes the lost tax revenue ‘could have revolutionised sustainable transport’.

According to the report, tripling investment in active travel would translate into better value for money in three ways.

The financial relief would be distributed more fairly between families and individuals, regardless of whether they drive, if the money was spent towards creating world-class walking and cycling infrastructure.

It would also result in a significant carbon reduction, while helping with ‘big ticket issues’, including the economy, health, national security and net zero targets.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns and advocacy at Cycling UK, said: “The long-term solution to rising prices at the pumps is to reduce our fuel-dependency by investing in public transport and active travel to give people realistic alternatives to jumping into their car.

“Calls for greater investment in active travel are sometimes rebuffed with claims that there isn’t enough money, but as this report shows, there was money available to revolutionise sustainable transport.

“But instead of investing to reduce car-dependency the Chancellor has surrendered £2.4 billion of tax revenue, half of which could go to line the pockets of fuel retailers rather than the public.

“In addition, people on the lowest incomes and most affected by the cost-of-living crisis are also less likely to drive, so won’t benefit at all from this inequitable carbon subsidy. It’s vital that politicians realise that the public want long-term sustainable transport solutions, and the time to act is now.”



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    There is, repeat is, enough money for many good active travel projects in Wales. Unfortunately there’s not enough engineers available with a good working knowledge of the design guidance to go around. That is one of the major bottlenecks here at present.

    p.s. I don’t think public transport and active travel would have been much help to me getting to and from Gatwick recently.

    Pat, Wales
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    I think politicians in London understand this. And one I can think of in Manchester… Bristol started down that line, but who knows now? However, generally on a local level the money just isn’t there, even with a few £millions for Active Travel Schemes, it’s only scratching the surface.

    But, and I’ve said it before, this is a Road Safety forum, not an Active Travel campaign. We’re only going to see increases in casualties unless car use can be reduced, and promoting walking and cycling without doing anything to curb car-use is not going to work in our favour.

    Simon John Taylor, Nottingham
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