A potential congestion charge was debated alongside sustainable transport proposals at a meeting of the Peak District National Park Authority’s Programmes and Resources Committee on Friday, January 21.
Transport policy planner Tim Nicholson said as part of the Peak District Sustainable Transport Project the authority was taking action such as working with bus operators to improve service coverage, looking into better provision of electric vehicle charging points and aiming to complete the White Peak Loop cycle route.
Councillor Chris Furness commented: “If you’ve got a family and you’re coming to the Peak District using public transport is incredibly expensive.
“Whereas it’s so much easier to push everybody in the car and drive that way.”
He questioned whether a congestion charge would offer a solution.
Mr Nicholson responded by saying the idea has been discussed in the past.
He added: “I think realistically given the funding crisis that the Government is likely to face in terms of gathering taxes from transport, at some point there will be some kind of charging scheme, whether we could do that independently or not.
“I personally have concerns over the impact that will potentially have on people on low incomes trying to access the national park however.
“If we all nationally were to go down that route, I would like to see any monies that were made reinvested in providing access to the national park, so it’s earmarked specifically for public transport.”
Councillor Charlotte Farrell said: “The problem I see is that it really needs a carrot and stick approach and until there’s some means of getting people to think about the cost of their cars, the actual monetary cost and the cost to the environment and getting onto public transport and using active travel I don’t think people are going to .
“We’re trying to encourage people from more deprived communities to come out into the park.
“They’re the people who can’t afford cars, so if there was some way of recouping costs from people who drive and putting that into public transport that has to help.”
She added: “I mean definitely we need something like a congestion charge.”
Members voted in favour of supporting the Peak District Sustainable Transport Project including a project officer to work with transport authorities in and around the national park.