Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 14:11 UK

Drivers catch green lights 'wave'

Green traffic light
The government aims to cut road transport CO2 emissions

Motorists should face fewer red lights following the relaxation of government guidance on the flow of traffic.

Local councils can adopt "green wave" systems of sensors, where vehicles at or just below the speed limit trigger a succession of green lights.

Environmental and motoring groups say carbon emissions will be reduced.

Previously the Department for Transport (DfT) had discouraged the systems which reduce fuel use, resulting in less tax being paid to the Treasury.

But now, rather than seeing green wave systems as a "cost" to the public purse, the DfT views them as a "benefit".

'Easy target'

The RAC's motoring strategist Adrian Tink said: "Green waves is a common sense win-win initiative that will actually help motorists as they go about their daily lives as well as reduce carbon emissions.

"It's used very successfully in other countries and it would be great to see motorists up and down the UK benefit from its widespread introduction.

Tackling climate change is one of the single most important issues we face, and cutting road transport CO2 emissions will play an important part in that
Department for Transport

"Let's hope this is the start of motoring being seen by policymakers as more than just an easy target for tax revenue."

The latest government guidance to local authorities on transport issues is contained in a document called the New Approach to Appraisal.

It states that it is "counter-intuitive" to view the higher tax revenues from discouraging green wave schemes as a "benefit".

Environmental pressure group Campaign for Better Transport said the schemes would make car driving more efficient, but claimed they would not get to the heart of the problem.

"They are fantastic so far as making the best available use of space and allowing drivers to drive in a smooth and therefore more efficient manner," said campaigner Richard George.

"But they don't tackle congestion in the long term because they don't give people alternatives to driving."

A DfT spokesperson said: "Tackling climate change is one of the single most important issues we face, and cutting road transport CO2 emissions will play an important part in that.

"Urban traffic control systems, like green wave, help tackle congestion and vehicle emissions in urban areas, and a number are already being progressed as local major schemes.

"Our new guidance regarding fuel taxation will mean that greater priority will now be given to this type of scheme."



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