Rural livelihoods + transport
We want to live in a thriving countryside, with buzzing rural communities of young and old. That’s why our villages need to have local jobs, shops and pubs, with doctors and schools close by and truly affordable homes.
We do this by:
- Listening to our community needs.
- Examining and commenting on planning applications.
- Making sure the community’s voice is heard at national, regional and local consultations.
- Encouraging and supporting initiatives which help the local economy.
Herefordshire presents some agonising choices if we examine connectivity. We are one of the least populated counties and we have only around 5 miles of dual carriageway, around 2000 miles of small roads and no large conurbations. Rail links are also very few in the county.
It is easier to see how trams, electric buses and encouraging people to walk and cycle in the City of Hereford will work. Road schemes and pedestrianisation can make it safer for all.
The widely spread farms, hamlets and small villages present a very different problem for the county. Rural life in Herefordshire is today dependent on the car. With narrow lanes, hills and in most cases significant distances to cover the majority of people do not find cycling or walking a suitable alternative to using their cars.
More public transport
We want to see rural transport improved so that there is genuine travel choice across Herefordshire and dependency on car use is reduced.
How we travel and plan transport impacts on the environment and our quality of life. The transport sector currently accounts for the largest share of UK greenhouse gas emissions. ‘Bus Back Better’, the Government’s strategy document of Spring 2021, appears to have had little effect so far.
If it isn’t planned properly, the best transport system isn’t much use. Not only that, if it is planned badly, transport can cause a great deal of damage, especially in the countryside. Rural public transport is far too limited in Herefordshire, in areas where people cannot easily cycle and walk to essential services – and where speeding traffic makes the roads dangerous in any case.
CPRE are campaigning for a national transport policy of ‘smarter travel first’, which will mean improving sustainable local transport so that road-building becomes the option of last resort. We have published a costed vision of a workable rural transport system.
Rather than easing it, new roads may actually generate more traffic and therefore pollution. Road building can cause needless environmental damage and sprawling development that is as bad for productivity as it is for quality of life.
We support investing more in public transport that works for all our community. The very rural communities need different solutions to those in Hereford City. Roads connect rural communities and as a county, many people are car dependent. We must find solutions such as community transport and ways to finance it that can realistically reduce individual journeys. Solutions cannot be one size fits all.
Road building is not a priority but road maintenance is something that is important to all those that live and work in the community.
A new way of working…
The coronavirus measures of 2020-21 speeded up changes in working practice in Herefordshire. In the past, agriculture was at the centre of most communities and one of the biggest employers. But now agriculture represents just 8% of total employment. Other major sectors are: health 15%, manufacturing 14%, retail 9%, tourism 8% and education 7%.
Also new ways of working have evolved. Video conferencing is now common practice in many people’s business and social life.
This shift has underlined the need for fast and reliable broadband. However this is still an issue in many parts of the county. Working from home could be a big help in the battle against climate change.
Cutting down travel clearly helps reduce CO2 emissions. That’s why we think any planning strategy must encourage hubs for local working and make sure that planned housing, workplace, schools and shops are all within walking or cycling distance.
Our county has a disproportionately aging population as young people move to urban areas for work and housing. So we want all levels of local government to work to keep younger people in rural communities. Support for local job creation and developments which offer smaller, affordable starter homes will help.
We hope that technology and climate emergency solutions will make more local working and living possible for our rural communities.