The Europe-wide ALTER (Alternative Traffic in Towns) Project was originally launched in 1998 by UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott as part of his transport and environment initiative during the UK presidency of the European Council. The project’s mission is to urge signatory cities to carry out a number of tasks. These include:

  • advocating and illustrating the feasibility of introducing low emission zones;
  • demonstrating to producers that there will be a rising and sustained demand for alternative fuels and vehicles;
  • renewing their own transport on a clean or near zero emission basis; and
  • converting their own vehicles with extended life-times to lower emission fuel.

So far, 120 cities and regions within Europe support the initiative, 42 of them in the UK. The scheme is also supported by the Committee of the Regions and Local Government of the European Union, and within the UK, by the Local Government Association, the Association of London Government, and the Greater London Assembly. The Government has also formed an all-party committee for ALTER.

“One of the most positive things about ALTER is it is locally based rather than top-down,” said Beckett.

Still more needs to be done in the UK, however. “What I believe is required is for more Members of Parliament to be lobbying their local authorities to get them on board,” said Brian Donohoe, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Traffic in Towns.

The launch event also hosted the unveiling of E=motion, the vehicle that will be attempting to break the world electric land speed record next spring. E=motion will need to go faster than 245 miles per hour (mph), and the team intends to reach speeds in the region of 300 mph. The team already hold the British land speed record of 300.3 mph, having broken Richard Noble’s 258 mph record.

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