5 North Avenue



March 2nd 2019 

The Draft Exeter Transport Strategy, 2019

An open letter to Devon County Council from Exeter Green Party

Exeter Green Party calls on Devon County to withdraw its flawed and weak draft Transport Strategy for Exeter and to work with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a new draft Transport Strategy that is fit for purpose.

The draft Exeter Transport Strategy is a fundamentally flawed document that we believe is entirely unfit to meet the multiple, challenges that Exeter faces in relation to transport and related issues, including air pollution. We call on Devon County to work with a wide range of stakeholders and experts to produce a new Exeter Transport Strategy that is fit for the 21st century.

Here are our reasons for making this call:

  • Climate change. Devon County have just declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ at their Council meeting on February 21st 2019 and acknowledge that 26% of greenhouse gas emissions arise from transport in Devon[1] and Exeter City Council have also just acknowledged a ‘Climate Emergency’. But the draft Transport Strategy contains no mention of, let alone goals relating to climate change / the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. With the Climate Emergency declaration, Devon County Council must go back to the drawing board and develop a strategy that puts reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transport at its heart.
  • Putting traffic reduction at the heart of a new Strategy.  The draft Strategy, whilst paying lip-service to modern transport planning ideas, fails to be honest about the need to actually reduce traffic – within the city as well as traffic coming into the city.  Cities across the world that have transformed their transport, quality of life and often economic prospects, have done so by actively seeking traffic reduction and increasing alternative. The 20th century, outdated attitudes that underpin the draft Strategy are clearly revealed in the truly extraordinary goal of getting more people in Exeter to leave their cars at home, in order to [free up] capacity to facilitate the increase of car-based inward commuters from outside the city[2]
  • Improving air quality in Exeter. The draft Strategy makes the barest mention of Exeter’s serious air pollution problem, largely arising from traffic. Public Health Devon say that just under half of Exeter’s residents (43.77%) are living with ‘medium’ or ‘high’ nitrogen dioxide pollution (as defined by Public Health England).[3] and the Director of Devon Public Health – the senior Director who oversees Transport at Devon County Council - states that “Air quality in Exeter is generally good but with all areas of the city requiring improvements to reduce the impact on human health as far as possible[4] [our italics].  Exeter needs cleaner air, fast, and a new Transport Strategy for the city must focus on helping to achieve this.
  • An ineffective and unrealistic plan, lacking in reasoning, evidence or unambiguous priorities.  The Strategy is a strange mixture of high level, often woolly aspirations, with almost no clear goals, and no rational arguments or evidence presented to justify the proposed approach. In particular, the reliance on creating four more park and ride sites is not justified in terms of what it will achieve. Conversely, introducing a work place parking levy, the single most effective measure in terms of achieving modal transport switch, whilst generating dedicated money for non-car transport spending, is not even mentioned as an option.
    The real disconnect between reality and Devon County Council’s views on transport were most recently captured at the public meeting in Alphington, attended by your Director of Transportation and Planning, where he asserted that some 2000 new homes and an estimated additional 5000 cars in SW Exeter would not cause further congestion in Alphington, and that there is no current congestion. Equally, he stated that air pollution on the Alphington Road wasn’t a problem, whilst Exeter City Council’s nitrogen dioxide monitoring shows levels at ‘medium’ and high (as defined by Public Health England) and illegal levels. 

The draft Strategy is lacking in any priorities that a lay person can understand, and that make clear where Devon County Council will prioritise spending and effort. A Strategy as significant as this one must have a clear case for proposed interventions, mapped against evidence and including value for money in relation to the degree of desirable change secured for the amount of public money that is spent.

Yours sincerely,

Exeter Green Party

[1] DCC Climate Change Strategy, August 2018

[2] Draft Exeter Transport Strategy, section 1.41

[3] Letter from Director Devon Public Health to Exeter Green Party, 07/08/2018.

[4] Letter from Director of Public Health Devon to Exeter Green Party, 26th September 2018.