Tag: Wales

  • Congestion Charge Cardiff – the Future Generations Approach

    Congestion Charge for Cardiff – the Future Generations Approach

    Singapore was first in 1975.

    London’s got one. Stockholm’s got one. Durham, Milan, Gothenburg and Valletta have them.

    Birmingham’s is on the way, as is one for Leeds and Paris.

    Yet, in the ‘land of Future Generations’, we’re still waiting! So we’re setting out here why we think a ‘Clean Air Zone’, or a Congestion Charge, would be a good thing for Cardiff (as a starter – no reason why this shouldn’t be the default for built-up areas with high ambient pollution).

    What is a Clean Air Zone (or Congestion Charge Zone)

    We assume that a Clean Air Zone for Cardiff would charge polluting vehicles to enter city limits – defined as those areas which suffer regularly from high pollution levels.

    We think that all non-resident private motor vehicles – except hydrogen, hybrid or fully electric vehicles – should have to pay a charge.

    And we think that all the money raised from the charge should be used:

    1. To pay the costs of the scheme
    2. To improve ways of entering Cardiff without needing to use a private motor vehicle (such as train, metro, bus, park and ride and bicycle infrastructure and services)
    3. To improve Active Travel infrastructure within Cardiff

    We also believe that Cardiff should follow Nottingham’s example of implementing a Workplace Parking Levy, and that this levy should be directed towards the same expenditure pots.

    The Well-being of Future Generations Act specifies seven Goals which should be attained by public sector organisations, working in partnership with stakeholders across civil society. We think that the scheme we envisage would support six out of the seven goals. The impact that a Congestion or Clean Air Zone charge would have on them each is detailed below.

    A Healthier Wales

    Air pollution is directly responsible for increased morbidity and mortality in the population at large, with particularly damaging effects on the elderly and vulnerable.

    It decreases lung function, causes respiratory infection, and significantly increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer. Maternal exposure to high levels of air pollution is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Reducing the number of private motor vehicles entering the city would reduce overall levels of air pollution.

    A More Equal Wales

    Pollution from vehicles does not affect the people of Wales equally. People with high wealth can choose more easily where they live, and are able to leave areas which suffer from high levels of pollution. People with higher educational attainment may be able to access information which can be used to mitigate exposure levels, or identify preferred areas to live or spend time. Pollution has greater health impacts on those who are less able to avoid it, such as young children and the elderly.

    A charge on private vehicles entering Cardiff would reduce air pollution, particularly for poor and vulnerable groups, supporting a More Equal Wales

    A Globally Responsible Wales

    Private motor vehicles which would be eligible for a Cardiff City entrance charge are also those which use fossil fuel. The use of fossil fuel is one of the main causes of climate change, so a reduction in the number of fossil-fueled private motor vehicles will reduce Wales’ contribution to Climate Change, supporting a Globally Responsible Wales.

    A Prosperous Wales

    Reducing our urban air pollution will reduce morbidity associated with air pollution, reducing the cost of treating such illness and enabling resources to be spent in other areas. A reduction in the use of fossil fuel will also reduce the ‘leakage’ of money which accompanies the purchase of fuel which is produced far away and transported to Wales at significant cost – paid for by Welsh householders and businesses.

    A Resilient Wales

    The funding which is raised from the scheme should be (partly) recycled into improved Active Travel infrastructure, and into infrastructure and services which support public transport. The use of Active Travel infrastructure in particular is far more resilient to the impacts of flooding or other Climate Change-related impacts (if a section of a cycle or walking path is flooded, it’s often possible to find an alternative route through that part, in a way that’s much more challenging for motor vehicles). Reduced air and water pollution will also contribute towards a more healthy ecosystem – part of Wales’ resilience.

    A Wales of Cohesive Communities

    Improved provision of Active Travel networks, funded by a Cardiff vehicular access charge, would provide an infrastructure which contributes directly to this Goal, namely “Attractive, viable, safe and well-connected communities”.

    We think the science and evidence supporting the implementation of a Congestion Charge/Clean Air Zone for Cardiff are compelling, and strongly aligned with the Well-being Goals – as well as (potentially) those of a Cardiff National Park City! We would encourage the Councillors and citzens of Cardiff to push for these measures to improve the quality of life for all.

  • Supporting girls & women in STEM

     

    Creating a more equal, prosperous Wales

    It’s no secret that the STEM sectors – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – are male-dominated. Two exceptions overall are probably the biological sciences and medicine, but even in these sectors, many of the top posts are occupied by men.

    I’ve been delighted to have been involved with the Welsh Government’s Women in STEM Board since May last year. The Board has strong representation at the Ministerial level, and is also populated by highly influential Champions of Women in STEM from across industry and education.

    I believe that it’s not just industry and education that face challenges with facilitating the pathway to fulfilling STEM hobbies and jobs, but the whole of society. That’s why I took on the role of Chair of a sub-group dealing with communications for Women in STEM.

    The two main outputs from the communications sub-group have been:

    The benefits of having a more equal STEM workforce are strongly overlapping with the values of Afallen. We believe that a STEM workforce which reflected gender in Wales would support both a more equal and a more prosperous Wales.

    A more balanced STEM workforce also supports three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, namely a Quality Education (Goal 4), Gender Equality (Goal 5) and Decent Work & Economic Growth (Goal 8).

    How can you get involved?

    The WiSTEM movement needs support from women and men in all walks of life. Here are some practical things that will help make the STEM sector, and society more widely, more accessible to women, thereby improving prosperity and equality for us all:

    1. Consider adding your support of Women in STEM to your social media profile. I have ‘Feminist’ in mine, which is a public reminder to myself of the behaviours and actions I expect to hold myself to
    2. If you’re happy to act as a STEM ambassador in a local school, or happy to speak to the media (print, radio or television) about why it’s important to improve the rates of participation by girls and women in STEM subjects, please sign up to the supporter list
    3. Sign up to be a mentor (or mentee!) at the Wales Women in STEM site
    4. Follow the twitter account 🙂

    If you have other practical suggestions on how to accelerate equality in STEM for girls, boys, women and men, please let us know in the comments below!

     

     

  • An urban National Park for Wales

    Building on the best

    Sometimes Wales is a pioneer. Sometimes we can learn from others who’ve gone first.

    When it comes to the nascent global movement for National Park Cities, London has blazed a trail, having founded the first National Park City (NPC), and created the National Park City Foundation to help inspire others.

    The aims of the National Park City Foundation are manifold, but include:

    • Enriching cities with nature
    • Empowering local people and communities to make a positive difference to their environment
    • Improving well-being, biodiversity, air quality and water quality in cities

    Afallen has been following the development of the NPC concept with interest. We chose the day of the launch of the London NPC – 22 July – to create a NPC website and Twitter account for Wales. We aim to work in partnership with people and organisations from all sectors, and of all types. We aim to help create a movement which is informed by expertise and local knowledge, and energised by the desire to make the world a better place.

    What and where?

    It’s early days yet in the development of a National Park City in Wales, so we haven’t yet solicited opinion about how it should look, nor where it should be located. We’re big into co-design, co-production and co-delivery, so we definitely don’t want to own this concept. We believe that it will be for the people, by the people.

    Wales is a predominantly rural country, with cities much smaller than many of the countries currently pursuing the NPC concept, so it remains to be seen whether we will focus on one or more cities – such as Swansea or Cardiff – or whether larger urbanised areas such as National Landscape Character zones, or the Valleys, are deemed to be more suitable.

    We’re currently getting informal support from the founders of the London National Park City, and starting to build up a list of supporter individuals and organisations who may be interested in shaping how a Wales National Park City or urban area might look.

    We would welcome your interest and support; you can demonstrate your support by registering your interest and signing up to receive updates, as well as by following our @WalesNP Twitter account.

    We look forward to working with you to catapult Wales to the top of the list of countries that are making a positive difference to their urban well-being and ecology.

    Image credit: Freepik