Planning for Net Zero

Our current pattern of travel and consumption of resources, alongside the scale of planned growth in the region, means a step-change in approach is required to cut emissions.

We will work towards net zero by prioritising investment not just on the basis of value for money, but for its contribution towards cutting emissions, as well as wider sustainability and environmental goals.

Whilst there are universal elements in the approach to decarbonising transport applicable to the country at large, it is equally important to develop solutions based on a place’s unique characteristics: there cannot be a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to decarbonisation.

Therefore, as sub-national transport body, EEH is developing a range of tools to support a place-based approach and to enable us, and our partners, to focus on delivering the right intervention in the right place.

England's Economic Heartland chairs the decarbonisation group of England's seven sub-national transport bodies.


Five reasons why a step-change is required...

ONE: The Heartland accounts for approximately 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions from surface transport and are 30% higher than the UK average (2005-2020).

TWO: Cars are the greatest contributor to surface transport emissions within the Heartland. They account for 59% of emissions, while HGVs and vans account for 38%.

THREE: There are substantial variations in surface transport emissions, and their sources, across the authorities within EEH. This reinforces the need for localised analysis and targets.

FOUR: Rates of decarbonisation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic will be insufficient to reach most decarbonisation targets. Continuing the 2017 to 2019 trend means transport would only be approximately 50% decarbonised by 2050.

FIVE: The cut in emission from transport that occurred during lock downs during the COVID-19 pandemic indicates the scale of change needed: The decrease in emissions observed is similar to the change needed according to models developed by the Climate Change Committee.

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During the period of the 2022-2025business plan, we will...

  • Work with each individual local authority to provide the right evidence and support in planning for a net zero transport system.
  • Support the roll out of local transport plans in the region – helping to manage links between local ambitions, the regional transport strategy and government policy.
  • Scope a monitoring and evaluation plan for a net zero transport system.
  • Facilitate a community of best practice for EEH local authorities to share expertise and experience of planning for net zero.
  • Press the case for electrification of our railways, as soon as possible, including East West Rail.
  • Work with neighbouring STBs, government and the freight sector to ensure decarbonisation of freight remains a priority area of focus.
  • Work with Transport East to define how the sector can better work collaboratively to support and enable the most efficient and effective roll out of electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Work to shape and influence national and regional thinking around behaviour change.
  • Support the discussion about new business models that can deliver revenue investment into place‑based decarbonisation solutions.
  • Continue to work with local authority partners to plan for and monitor net zero transport, including implementation of a regional monitoring and evaluation approach


Net zero transport - additional DfT funding (ongoing)

The DfT has confirmed additional in-year funding for STBs for work on four specific areas, including decarbonisation and electric vehicle infrastructure. Work is being progressed jointly with neighbouring STBs.

A joint submission regarding decarbonisation was developed by EEH and Midlands Connect on behalf of all seven sub-national transport bodies. This will examine how policies and plans will likely have differing scales of impact depending on the nature of the location where they are applied.

Further joint work led by EEH with Transport for the South East and Transport East, will build on the Midlands connect / EEH work.

The project will give each local authority a robust carbon “baseline” outlining the scale of emissions from transport, where they are occurring and the journeys that are causing them: It will provide a place-based “diagnosis” of the EEH region, including the application of the relevant typologies to places, alongside the development of a bespoke report for each transport authority with a suggested suite of high-level interventions to meet the chosen pathway(s) for each authority area.

Finally it will provide a digital tool that combines the baseline, place diagnosis and policy impacts, enabling each local authority to understand the effect of their future policies on emissions - supporting the development of targeted policy interventions and rapid LTP development.

Electric vehicle infrastructure - additional DfT funding (ongoing)

The exponential increase in electric vehicle uptake expected over the next decade will need to be supported by an equally significant increase in charging infrastructure. For example, government expects the number of public charge points to increase tenfold by 2030. Local authorities are expected to develop and implement local charging strategies.

EEH – working with Transport East – has developed a tool to help local authorities plan electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It includes robust baseline data, electric vehicle uptake scenarios and a forecast of likely charge point requirements. Based on traffic flow and power grid capacity it points to the likely sites where private sector providers will invest, further quantifying the likely areas of focus of public sector support.

The beta version of the tool is now live and a number of ‘tester’ authorities have had early access. Transport East is working on a web hosting arrangement for the platform that will allow for the tool to be more widely accessed. EEH will continue to work with Transport East on the next phase of this work which includes further constituent partner authority engagement (understanding of capacity and approach to EV charge point provision) and further developing public sector understanding of how and when private capital investment into the sector will occur.


Decarbonisation Roadmap

EEH have developed a standalone 'roadmap' setting out what the nationally adopted pathways/trajectories to net zero transport would look like for local authorities in our region.

The initial stage focuses on translating the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) Sixth Carbon Budget, transport decarbonisation plan and Tyndall Centre pathways into a regionally specific decarbonisation roadmap. EEH commissioned City Science to develop the first package of the decarbonisation roadmap for the Heartland.

The first phase of the roadmap, setting out the emissions baseline in the region, was published during COP26 in November 2021.

The outcome of this work has been shared with our Local authority partners. This work has formed that basis of the pan-STB collaboration – developing a new baseline and policy tools.

Pathways to Decarbonisation

In 2020 England's Economic Heartland commissioned Oxford and Southampton universities to use advanced modelling to show how the region could work towards a net zero carbon transport system.

The study (Pathways to Decarbonisation) assumed a transition to 100% zero-emissions cars, light goods vehicles (LGVs), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs, for example buses and coaches) by 2050. In addition, the work allowed EEH to identify the following pathways to decarbonisation:

i) A highly connected future, one that enables our transport system to provide better transport information to the user, better management of the transport network, and the rapid deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles. This pathway will build on a step change in the provision of digital access and services to the home – allowing for a significant increase in home working and a significant change in travel patterns

ii) A policy-led behavioural shift by which decision makers at all levels agree to deploy policy levers specifically designed to reduce the number of car trips. This will require the application of measures designed to reduce the need to travel. In parallel, it requires a commitment to ensure local communities have real choice in the way they travel – with bus, rail and active travel options being attractive and viable alternatives to the private car.

By primarily reducing the need to travel, focusing on modal shift and supporting the deployment of mass rapid transit and active travel, it highlights an affordable alternative to traditional, large-scale road projects that take many years to plan, fund and deliver.


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