Understanding alternative futures

The long-term future has unknowns: political, socio-economic, environmental and technological.

Addressing future uncertainty in scenario development is an approach which is supported by the Department for Transport.

At EEH we have been considering how to plan for uncertainty with a need to build resilience into technical programmes and resulting investment plans.

This has resulted in the developed of a series of ‘alternative futures’ which the Heartland may face. By creating a single, overarching perspective of alternative futures across the region EEH is ensuring a consistent baseline from which our work can evolve and be tested for its resilience.

Our ‘alternative futures’ are not predictions of the future, rather they are plausible ‘futures’ that reflect different drivers of change (for example, socio-economic changes in society or technological change). The ‘drivers of change’ have considerable but uncertain influences over the demand for future travel at the sub-regional level, influencing where and how people live and work as well as their attitudes and behaviours to travel and connectivity.

To develop the alternative futures, two workshops were held with officers and partners across the EEH region.

Our alternative futures

Four regional ‘alternative futures’ emerged from workshop sessions. They are:

  • Business as Usual – a continuation of trends
  • Slow Recovery - a slower return to the pre-Covid19 business-as-usual and an economy vulnerable to external and internal economic shocks, there will be a prolonged period of working from home / hybrid working and subsequently, a continuation of fewer journeys for all trip types, across all modes
  • Radical Change - High government spend is coupled with a radical change in policy, directed to support a shift in public attitudes towards health and carbon and accelerate progress towards achieving net zero carbon ambitions ahead of the EEH 2040 ambition
  • High Teach - Public and government attitudes to technology and technological change are very positive. An acceptance of a hybrid model of working, locking in the benefits of home working, leads to a lower overall and peak travel demand

The alternative futures will be applied, as appropriate, across our technical programme, beginning with EEH’s connectivity studies.