ARTICLES


  • Planes, Trains, Buses and Bicylces

    The Moorlander
    26 February 2020

    In January the Government intervened to support Flybe – the only UK airline with its Head Office located in the Southwest at Exeter Airport. The exact details of the agreement have not been made public but this was not a full-scale bailout; it is likely that Flybe have simply been given extra time to pay about £100million of outstanding Air Passenger Duty. It will have been a difficult decision, but for our regional economy the move will have protected hundreds of jobs here in Devon. Some questioned the intervention on the basis of air travel being a contributor to carbon emissions and it ignited a debate about whether we should be looking to reduce air travel to help combat climate change. While I am fully committed to Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 (I wrote an entire article on this last week which can be found at www.melstridemp.com), the only simple way of reducing air travel would be to hike up aviation taxes which would move the industry back towards the days of being the privilege of the wealthy. Any solution which simply penalises the least well off is not a good solution. I am also optimistic about the future of electric flight. Last year we saw the prototype launch of the world’s first commercial all-electric passenger aircraft and within the next two decades there is no reason that shorter flights (less than 1,000 miles) could all be made by electric engines. These flights will be virtually emission-free and potentially cost 90% less per journey compared to the fuels used today, giving airlines an incentive to invest in the aircraft.

    Earlier this month the Government reaffirmed its commitment to HS2 after its estimated cost increased again. It has been a controversial project but one I support – the long-term financial gain will still outweigh the cost. This significant investment will be accompanied by more funding for rail routes outside our major cities and I remain optimistic that a regular North Dartmoor rail service, which I have spent a decade campaigning for, will be given the official go-ahead in the not too distant future.

    The PM has also recently announced a £5 billion package of new funding to improve bus and cycle links for every region outside London. The funding will see the introduction of more regular and faster bus services (including at least 4,000 new zero emission buses) and more than 250 miles of new cycleways. I recently met with Teignbridge District Councillor Terry Tume in Tedburn St Mary following concerns that Stagecoach is looking at curtailing some of the journeys made by the 6/6A between Bude, Okehampton and Exeter by having them stop at Okehampton. This could leave villages on the route between Okehampton and Exeter along the A30, such as Tedburn St Mary and Pathfinder Village, with a reduced service. I have written to Stagecoach and urged them to clarify their proposals.

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit www.melstridemp.com.








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