'Park and Ride' schemes damage countryside, campaigners claim

‘Park and Ride’ schemes are not solving traffic problems, they are shifting them to the countryside, rural campaigners have claimed.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CRPE) will outline their concerns about the schemes, which are now in operation in 40 towns and cities in England, at a major Park and Ride conference in London on Thursday.

The idea behind the schemes is that motorists can leave their vehicle on the outskirts of towns and finish their journey by bus, rather than drive into the town city.

However, Paul Hamblin, CPRE’s Head of Transport Policy, said: “Superficially Park and Ride Schemes look an attractive option for urban areas. Traffic generates noise, pollution and is an intrusion for many areas. But out of sight should not mean out of mind – the problem is simple being shifted to the edge of our urban areas and to the countryside next door.

“Increasingly large areas of countryside are being buried under tarmac in the name of sustainable transport. But in reality, almost every trip relies on using the car at one end. These schemes do not reduce our dependency on the car.”

According to consultants TAS, spending on Park and Ride schemes has increased significantly within four years, rising from £10.4 million to £37 million.

Among the concerns raised by CPRE about the growth of the schemes are a fear that the schemes will intrude into the countryside and designated Green Belt land and that they could urbanise the countryside through additional lighting and signage.

Mr Hamblin said that existing rural public transport services are under “intense pressure” because of the schemes and he said that traffic levels needed to be reduced overall and public transport services closer to where people live needed to be improved, in order to provide “genuine transport choices”.

Mr Hamblin added: “Our Green Belts, which protect against urban sprawl, are under attack like never before with Park and Ride a leading threat. If this continues – every major town in England will have a necklace of car parks around it – and it won’t be a pretty sight.”


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