Decarbonisation of Rural Transport

Rural districts in the UK account for 32% of transport carbon with only 21% of population with transport carbon emissions per head two thirds greater than the metropolitan districts.

The demographics of rural residents can vary significantly between communities and as a result the needs of these communities also vary significantly. However, in general, residents of rural communities:

  • travel almost twice as far per year than those in the most urban areas with 86% of travel using a car.
  • Have poorer access to education than in urban areas with 11-16 year olds having to travel 7.5 miles on average, almost 3 times as far as those in urban conurbations to get to school.
  • have lower overall levels of accessibility to health services by public transport the average minimum travel time to a hospital is a little over one hour, 34 minutes by car.
  • have poor access to employment with under half rural residents having public transport access to places with 5,000 or more jobs within 45 minutes, average car journey time is 47 minutes.

This relative isolation of rural communities is affecting their health and prosperity and lowering the economic contribution of the rural economy. There is also a higher population of elderly people as young adults are more likely to live close to the main urban areas to access education and employment opportunities. This impacts the prospects for business growth in rural areas due to the lack of available employees and also influences the health requirements of an area.

The application of initiatives to enhance transport connections, provide new ways of moving people, reduce the need for people to move or the distances they need to travel and change how services are provided could reduce the carbon generation of our rural communities. These include concepts such as ‘Rural Hubs’ where a range of potential services can be provided to improve access to sustainable transport, health, education, employment and leisure opportunities for rural residents.

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