Peninsula Transport’s Chairman, Councillor Andrea Davis, reflects on the opportunities and value of being part of the STB family in the run-up to the inaugural STB Conference.
The South West peninsula is an amazing place to live, visit and work, with its bustling towns, vibrant cities, beautiful coastline and rural landscapes. We host the largest music festival in Europe, the first of a new fleet of nuclear power stations playing a key role in the UK energy strategy, and have an international offer in our key sites for new enterprise. Surrounded by the sea, our unique location and geography means that our transport connections are vital to everything we do, but with that uniqueness comes challenges.
Peninsula Transport was formed in 2018, bringing together the transport authorities for Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay to speak with one voice about the transport and infrastructure needs of the region. We will have a regional transport strategy, setting out transport’s role in boosting the peninsula’s economic growth over the next 30 years. Key to this is talking and listening to our local businesses and communities. We have to understand the challenges they face, hear their ideas, and develop solutions together so that we can secure the best for our region.
We have two international airports, two main road arteries, two main rail lines and nine seaports. Our ambition is to strengthen these strategic links to keep pace with the rest of the UK, and develop an enhanced transport system that is more efficient, resilient and cleaner. Unlocking our productivity potential would deliver a major boost for the UK economy. We want to improve connectivity both within and out of the peninsula, not least to encourage more young people to stay to redress the disproportionally high number of older people in our population. We also want a more resilient transport network, which is always put under great strain when we have large numbers of visitors or severe weather conditions. This is compounded by higher than average car ownership, and older ones at that, because public transport is sparse to non-existent in our rural areas.
As one of the newest members of the STB family, we can learn much from the collaboration and joined up thinking that has already taken place to find solutions to some of the transport challenges across the country. Likewise, we hope to bring a fresh perspective because of the uniqueness of our own situation and the work already underway to achieve our ambitions. With access to shared funding, I’m sure that together we can find new and innovative ways to address common issues.
Although we are still in the early stages of our STB journey, we are already involved in some exciting and innovative collaborations, for example, working closely with our neighbour Western Gateway, on a freight strategy and a rural mobility strategy. The greater weight of combining the STB areas means that we can look at the opportunities and challenges from a South West perspective. Improving connections between people, place and business is at the heart of our shared goals, as well as supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities by working towards a zero emissions transport system.
We are very much looking forward to the first STB Conference and sharing this with our fellow STB members. It is going to be a great opportunity for us not only to contribute to the wider discussions on the future of transport and infrastructure, but also to play our part in finding solutions to achieving some of the collective transport goals that will benefit us nationally and here in the peninsula.
More information on the STB Conference is available here: https://www.stbconference.com/