Levelling up sustainable transport in the West of England

Sara Sloman
Zero Emission Mobility Lead | Foot Anstey LLP
7th September 2020
Member roleInitiative member

Foot Anstey are proud members of the West of England Initiative at Business West, which works with thought leaders to share ideas and shape the region together.

We were delighted to host an Initiative meeting, focussed on mobility and sustainability in the city and surrounding regions. We believe transport and mobility is integral to society – it creates growth, generates jobs, facilitates trade and connects people and places. There is a growing need to develop a transformational local transport policy that places the needs of the consumer at its centre – something we all agreed upon at the meeting. The climate emergency and call for clean air zones is another driving force for improved mobility options. Solutions such as robust electric vehicle charging infrastructure and improved cycle networks and hire schemes, can go a long way to helping reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in our cities. 

James Durie of Business West welcomed everyone to the group, which was 30 key stakeholders in the region who are all members of the Bristol Initiative and focussed on transport and mobility. Chris Pritchett, Head of Energy at Foot Anstey shared our ambition to provide the support businesses need to embed into the built environment offering the technology and infrastructure to truly decarbonise transport. I work on Zero Emission Mobility in the Energy and Infrastructure team; it’s very much my role to think about the right steps towards innovation, the right policy and galvanising an effort to work together, which can be mostly about communication and reaching a solid agreement. 

We were pleased to receive a presentation from Jason Humm of WECA, who highlighted the national trends for transport options post lockdown, "showing a massive chance to cement the cycling opportunity as our propensity is higher than the national average" calling for an indicative settlement to see investment in the region to ensure we can harness this potential. Following Jason's presentation, we opened the floor to the Initiative members. 

Peter Smith from Ashton Gate Stadium wants to encourage businesses in the city to have a greater overview of planned transport schemes. As a key attraction and employer in the city of Bristol, Peter needs an opportunity to be made more aware of the transport plans to come. Likewise, Kate Royston from SevernNet calls for a closer working relationship with two-way communication with the regions outside of the city centres as so often they can feel remote or removed from the discussion but have a large proportion of the employment opportunities. 

Sebastian Loyn from YTL building the arena in Bristol, with a hope to develop the brownfield site to include micro mobility hubs. £3.65m in s106 funding will go towards supporting the transport systems in the region. This is an extremely exciting development for the City and one which will lead the way for others in the country. 

Next we had insight from James Ryan of Bristol Airport who brought vision of their low carbon future and their approach to reduce their carbon footprint to be net zero by 2050, and John Chaplin of The Bristol Port Company  who shared their vision for decarbonisation of their dry side activities embracing e-bikes and electric vehicles (EVs) to move from point to point. Jonathan Foster-Clark from Atkins calls for mass transport, and a reduction in hypermobility to ensure we meet our climate emergency and Tim Strong from Arcadis reminded us that "change may be uncomfortable, but if we mean it, we need to change our behaviour and change policy". 

On a smaller scale, looking at ownership models for EVs, Julian Mensah from Voltric brings exciting news that subscription models for EV use removes barriers or risks for adoption. We called for an important reminder, that in Bristol there is a need to devote greater road space to cyclists and buses, if we are to truly clean the air. Bristol City Council have completed some bold and inspiring cycling schemes with many more planned. Ian Pond from CyclingWorks wants to ensure the business community has an opportunity to present a collective view for a seamless end to end experience in the city and Gavin Hawkins from First Group praises the subsidy providing which has been essential to keep the services running with social distancing. Sue Arrowsmith shared BookMyBus being trialled in Bristol as a COVID response, which will assure passengers of safety.

Initiative meetings are a great way to share thoughts, shape ideas and underline key points which are shared closely with decision makers. The hour flew by, and the closing remarks were unanimous. This meeting was a nod to the fact that this is a once is a lifetime opportunity, we must not stop striving for change and challenging the norm. Together, we can find joy in the journey, as WECA have said. 

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