Britain leaving the European Union (EU) presents a threat to the creation of new Active Travel infrastructure, according to a leading sustainability campaigner – but could also be an opportunity.
Ryland Jones, head of built environment at Sustrans Cymru, warned that if EU grants are not replaced by domestic funding, there could be further demands on budgets from other priorities.
Ryland Jones of Sustrans Cymru
This would pose a ‘real danger’ to funding of Active Travel (Wales) Act capital schemes, for example.
Active Travel measures within larger road and rail schemes could be the first to be cut if funding for those schemes is reduced, he also suggested.
However, Mr Jones said a key issue is how non-EU replacement funding for transport would be apportioned and how priorities would be decided once Britain has left the EU, if such funding is provided.
‘In one sense, it offers an opportunity to reset priorities around funding parameters which allow better access for Active Travel-type schemes and the type of reporting outcomes they can generate most effectively – for example in terms of health and wellbeing, CO2 reduction or local economic resilience – rather than job creation per se or increased GDP.’
Mr Jones said EU funding for schemes in Wales had become increasingly focused on job creation and supporting economic activity.
‘To date, most EU-funded projects around the National Cycle Network and [Active Travel] network development generally have been regeneration or tourism-related initiatives, rather than urban networks for everyday travel, though some elements do cross over.’