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The accusations came after Transport Minister Glenda Jackson admitted that even if the government White Paper for local congestion charging and traffic controls becomes law, traffic levels will be 37% higher in 2010 than in 1990.

Replying to a series of Written Questions from Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, Jackson went on to say that if the White Paper is only implemented in London and some other major cities, traffic levels will be 39% higher. Previous forecasts were for 40% traffic growth over the period.

“Labour’s transport policies will not achieve Mr Prescott’s promised traffic reduction,” said FoE Parliamentary Campaigner Ron Bailey. “Labour has abandoned a key election pledge and Ministers are reneging on undertakings given to the House of Commons.”

The UK pressure group pointed out that Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott said on his appointment that he “will have failed if in five years time if … there are not far fewer journeys by car. It’s a tall order but I urge you to hold me to it” [The Guardian: 6/6/97].

And last year, Jackson also made clear her support for a cut in traffic: “I thought I had made the position clear … there should be a reduction in road traffic” [Hansard: 18/3/98. col 55].

Carbon dioxide emissions from road transport are also likely to rise by 6% between 1996 and 2010, according to Jackson. This figure assumes a continuing rise in fuel duty of 6% a year over inflation, but no other policy changes.

“Mr Prescott asked to be judged by the number of cars on the road,” said Bailey. “If he is serious, he must now set a firm, clear road traffic reduction target. We think a cut of 10% over 1990 levels by 2010 is both realistic and achievable. To plan for continuing increases, as the DETR now seems to be doing, is to abandon any claim to be putting the environment at the heart of Government.”

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