Building a greener UK: are present policies winning hearts and minds?

We’ve all heard a lot of talk about building back better and greener; we have all seen the problems mass mobility has caused (from viruses racing around the world via mass travel, to local products not being there when needed because we’ve become dependent on global supply chains for everything from vegetables to PPE). Concurrently, politicians and pundits warn us that trust in government and institutions (seen as too distance and detached from people’s lives) is waning with dangerous potential consequences; we can all see that building a greener, more sustainable country, where people are more engaged and attached to their local communities is essential. However, the last few months have shown the gulf between that aspiration, and the reality on the ground. Councils have made tentative steps to build active travel zones, provide cycle lanes and restrict car use, but voter pushback is a real deterent, scaring even more progressive local authorities off the radical changes needed. Instead, funding or change is diluted over large numbers of small schemes, often where the planning and consultation consumes more budget than the actual implementation – and half of these are promptly reverted back at the first sniff of voter negativity. The problem is, our society is so steeped in the culture of private car ownership that small scratches on the surface just serve to irritate more people rather than start any culture change. Even the most radical schemes being attempted still ultimately concede to the reality that most people will own a car, park it near their house and drive it regularlly. As long as that is the cultural norm, how can we see the change we really need? Will the large amounts of money spent scattered across the country just lead to patchwork sticking-plaster changes with little impact?




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