Air Quality & Travel Planning
Air pollution in the UK is linked to 40,000 early deaths per year. The World Health Organisation estimates around 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to poor air quality, confirming that air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk.
By the nature of airborne pollutants, air quality is a global problem. The whole world potentially benefits when air quality improves.
Travel and transport are significant contributors to air pollution, in the UK transport accounts for around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
Socially responsible organisations are adopting travel planning as a method by which they can encourage sustainable modes of travel and develop new ways of working that reduce the need for carbon-intensive travel in organisations.
With the Climate Change Act 2008 requiring the UK to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 (against 1990 levels), every organisation has a key role to play in achieving carbon reduction strategies.
The government is working to reduce emissions from transport by promoting public transport, supporting innovative forms of transport and encouraging a move to cleaner and lower carbon vehicles.
Travel planning is encouraged to reduce local congestion, reduce single-occupancy car journeys, promote other modes of sustainable transport and increase health and wellbeing by encouraging low cost workplace-based interventions, such as walking and cycling, to improve the uptake of sustainable travel modes.
NHS Travel Plan
The movement of the NHS’ 1.3 million staff, patients and visitors accounts for approximately 5% of all road traffic in England, with a large proportion of this travel being made in cars with a single occupier. Consider this fact alongside a visit to any NHS site where you’re likely to be faced with traffic congestion and parking issues as estates struggle to meet the demand for car parking.
This large volume of traffic has a detrimental effects on air quality, numbers of road traffic incidents, congestion on the roads and makes up about a fifth of the NHS carbon footprint, highlighting the contribution of the healthcare sector to wider air quality issues. The NHS has a critical role in adopting policies that support national carbon reduction targets, to lead by example in the management of its estates and generate sustainable travel plans.
Travel planning is a mandatory requirement in NHS organisations. The vision is for every NHS site to have an sustainable travel plan which will encourage alternative routes of active travel i.e. walking, cycling and/or public transport. The plan should also aim to reduce the need to travel by the organisation, improve information provision to enable people to use public transport more effectively. The benefits derived from travel planning include reduced transport costs through co-ordination, an increase in physical health and mental wellbeing of staff as well as providing the opportunity to develop local partnerships to resolve car parking issues.