Climate change: 'It's time to solve the problem of large polluting vehicles first' - reader's letter

Reading recent articles in the press and seeing items on television about freight trains and lorry driver shortages made me smile.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 3:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 3:39 pm
This reader believes that the solution to the climate crisis is to solve the problem of large polluting vehicles first (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

It's 40 years since I, along with colleagues including management and CEOs of the GEC Traction Combine, lobbied Parliament on the electrification of the Midland main line.

Our arguments included using taxes from cars to pay for electric trains, passenger and freight, along with subsidised rapid transit systems i.e. trams etc. which would use renewable energy.

The Government at that time was the ‘loadsamoney’ Thatcher administration with its greed-before-need ideology so our ideas were rejected out of hand.

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As well as solving the problem of large polluting vehicles, we need a reliable public transport infrastructure. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

It seems strange to me that politicians are now running around claiming that the planet might fry us all because of our actions, or should that be their inaction.

I believe our ideas back then are still workable now. The motor industry, including its supply network and car use, is worth billions in revenue to governments, yet if a good public transport system was built using these revenues car use would decline.

At 75 years old and retired, I don't need to use my car to commute but many people do. I know when I worked a 20-minute car commute would take 1 hour 40 mins by bus.

The Green ideas of cycling or walking are simply not an option to many people. Ideas put forward by so-called environmentalists, catalytic converters, lean-burn engines, E20 fuels, have cost manufacturers and motorists millions and yet are now deemed not enough.

In the last 40 years, however, by fashion and public demand, specification on cars has grown with modern engines working overtime to support creature comforts, electric seats, windows and mirrors, heated memory seats, satnavs etc.

It's been accepted for decades that optimum economy for cars is reached at 55/60 mph, a fact acknowledged by the authorities on clean air stretches of motorways, yet the national speed limit is 70 mph and if you travel at a constant 70 on most motorways you will be overtaken by any number of vehicles at 90-plus, incurring up to 20% increase in fuel consumption, so how serious are we at solving our problems?

We should tackle the other problems first; an electric freight train can take 40-60 lorries off our roads, if delivering to local hubs that would allow delivery drivers to work with electric vehicles to take the goods to their local destination.

It's time to solve the problem of large polluting vehicles first and build a reliable and sustainable efficient public transport system that people are confident they can use, cars can provide that revenue even when they're parked.

The future of this planet is a serious issue that deserves proper debate and not just in the domain of what seems to me hysterical folk shouting blah blah blah or gluing their head to the road.

The people in the USA we call Plains Indians believe that the earth does not belong to us, we belong to it, and it's Mother Earth who will determine our future. Worth thinking about!

Mick Nicholas

Sheffield, S5