As an Island the Isle of Wight has finite space, and a road system that is at continual strain with high volumes of congestion, and the increasing size and sheer amount of vehicles on the road.
Carbon Dioxide emissions are the largest contributor to climate change on the planet; emissions from cars being one of the largest contributors. In other countries across the world and in places across the UK these issues have been identified and addressed with some gumption, other countries are now making these issues a priority.
As a result of increased car use and other less active forms of transport, an increase in adult and child obesity is apparent, contributing the rising rates of diseases such as type II diabetes amongst others, in addition to illnesses related to carbon emissions, putting additional strains on our National Health Services.
According to data from the Isle of Wight Council’s Public Health Department, nearly 70% of adults over the age of 16+ on the Isle of Wight are classified as overweight or obese as of 2016. (Isle of Wight Council, 2016)
The Workplace Engagement Programme from the Isle of Wight Council’s Access Fund for Sustainable Transport funded by the DfT and various local contributors, aims to help alleviate and reduce these issues with the use of a travel plan scheme, and various funded Sustainable Travel options for businesses and organisations across the island, to encourage the use of Sustainable Transport travelling to and from the workplace. (Isle of Wight Council, 2018)
What is a Travel Plan?
Travel planning within a business, workplace or an organisation has the potential to reduce car usage, targeting major areas of traffic volume, by addressing the requirements of the travelling public via a co-ordinated approach.
As a result of this, benefits such as a healthier lifestyle, reduced congestion, and improved air quality can be the achievement of implementing various initiatives and schemes such as the improvement of facilities (e.g Bike storage, showers), car sharing schemes, public transport promotion and discounts, and encouraging cycling and walking.
Travel Plans also have the ability to influence people outside the workplace, such as your clients or visitors through your actions, meaning that travel plans are relevant for any type of organisation or sector. E.g Tourism - Reducing the amount of cars in the car park by installing bike storage for your guests or giving away free bus travel to encourage them to visit you.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
What are the Sustainable Development Goals, and why are they important to CSR?
The Sustainable Development Goals are the building blocks of our future. Corporate Social Responsibility and the SDGs walk hand in hand. It is your responsibility, no matter how big or small your organisation is to help contribute to these goals set down by the UN, to help achieve a more balanced community; socially, environmentally, and economically. It is your responsibility as a business owner to help life continue sustainably: locally, nationally and globally to help preserve the planet for future generations.
(More on the SDGs can be found here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org)
Why is Travel Planning relevant to the SDGs and CSR?
Travel Plans can be a great opportunity to make a start on ‘doing your bit’ for sustainability and CSR, as well as a good opportunity for some free marketing and PR. By contributing to positive change, you are demonstrating that you are a socially and environmentally responsible business/organisation that cares about their community, that wants to minimise their impact, and cares about their employees. This is an attractive prospect for potential future clients and investors.
Reducing car travel overall to and from the site in everyday travel and in business travel, can also contribute and improve the image of the business, showing that the business is a nice place to visit. This is particularly important for businesses that rely on the presentation of their site to sell their services. E.g. Accommodation or visitor attractions.
REDUCED EMPLOYEE SICKNESS AND ABSENCES - 3 GOOD HEALTH & WELLBEING
Within this modern world, it is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to determine our home and work lives. Technology means work is now everywhere and our employees are feeling the strain. So much so that almost 1 in 3 people working full time feel the demands of work are a key reason for not being able to follow NHS health guidelines* on the amount of exercise they do and eating a healthy, balanced diet. (Personnel Today, 2017)
Wellbeing is a positive physical, social and mental state. It is an important part of our health. Good wellbeing does not just mean the absence of mental illness – it brings a wide range of benefits, including reduced health risk behaviour (such as smoking and obesity), reduced mortality, improved educational outcomes and increased productivity at work. (Department of Health, 2010)
The costs alone for high risk behaviour related illnesses is huge. For example, the direct costs of obesity to the NHS rose from £480 million a year in 1998 to £4.2 billion a year in 2007. Estimates of the indirect costs (such as loss of earnings through sick days) range between £2.6 billion and £15.8 billion. (Butland et al, n.d.)
On the Isle of Wight alone, statistics on adult obesity from 2016 show that an estimated two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. (Isle of Wight Council, 2016). Statistics also show as of May 2017/18 that 11.3% of Islanders are moderately or fairly active for up to 30-149 minutes a week. (Sport & Physical Activity Levels by Local Authority, 2017).
The encouragement of active travel and behaviour within the workplace can help to tackle some of these issues. Sustrans reported that ‘actively promoting healthier travel options in the workplace has been shown to reduce absenteeism by up to 20%’ and ‘physical activity has been suggested to benefit levels of ‘presenteeism’ (Activity impairment, low efficiency and poor performance at work, usually due to stress or problems associated with poor health) in the work place, and has been estimated to cost businesses up to 7.5 times as much as absenteeism. (Sustrans, 2017)
The Workplace Engagement Programme can help and aid businesses with the encouragement of active travel and behaviour with various sustainable travel options and discounts in addition to potential funding and the travel plan scheme itself.
PLANNING PERMISSIONS AND CONDITIONS - 11 SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
Travel Plans should be updated or re-visited as much as it is as deemed necessary to ensure that all strategies and goals are accurate or obtainable, and to ensure that the business is on target to achieving their aspirations.
Travel Plans aren’t just used for existing sites to improve a situation. They can also be used to improve congestion, parking problems, recruitment and retention of staff and air quality.
Additionally, Travel Plans are used If you’re planning on building a brand new development on a development site. Travel Plans can be a condition of the planning process depending on what the site is being used for. The Local Authority may however ask for a plan, even if it does not meet the usual thresholds. The purpose of a Travel Plan in this sense is to reduce the amount of car users coming to the site, and to actively encourage all visitors and employees to use different methods of Sustainable Travel (Hants.gov.uk, n.d.)
This is not only good for the environment, but it helps to ensure that the development will not put anymore significant pressures on the road system that may otherwise cause increased forms of congestion and air pollution.
Travel Plans can be a necessary condition for planning permissions under the National Planning Policy Framework.
“4. Promoting sustainable transport
Paragraphs 29 to 41
35. Plans should protect and exploit opportunities for the use of sustainable transport modes for the movement of goods or people. Therefore, developments should be located and designed where practical to
accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and supplies
give priority to pedestrian and cycle movements, and have access to high quality public transport facilities
create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians, avoiding street clutter and where appropriate establishing home zones
incorporate facilities for charging plug-in and other ultra-low emission vehicles
consider the needs of people with disabilities by all modes of transport
36. A key tool to facilitate this will be a Travel Plan. All developments which generate significant amounts of movement should be required to provide a Travel Plan. (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2012)”
REDUCED CARBON EMISSIONS AND CONGESTION - 13 CLIMATE ACTION
Promotion of Sustainable Travel within any industry has a significant positive impact upon any individuals behaviour and travel habits.
The Access Fund’s projects on the Isle of Wight alone have demonstrated that Sustainable Travel Initiatives have had a positive impact upon Sustainable Development on the Isle of Wight.
Carbon Emissions alone were reduced by 136 tonnes in the past year, and active travel increased dramatically thanks to the Sustainable Transport Initiatives from the Access Fund. Hiblin, Beth et al (2018)
Reduced congestion in any area reduces the affects of carbon emissions and air pollution alone. In turn, this contributes to positive developments in health and wellbeing, the reduction of illnesses from air pollution, the environment, and naturally a positive impact on the long lasting affects of Climate Change.
If you would like to get involved with the Workplace Engagement Programme, please contact me to arrange a meeting. - Click here
Of if you’d like to find out more information, please attend the next information session in January. - Click here
Isle of Wight Council. (2016). Joint Strategic Needs Assessment - Excess weight and nutrition. [online] Available at: https://www.iow.gov.uk/azservices/documents/2552-Excess-weight-and-nutrition-final-factsheet-2016-v1.pdf [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].
Isle of Wight Council. (2018). Application to the Access Fund for Sustainable Travel 17/18 to 19/20. [online] Available at: https://www.iow.gov.uk/azservices/documents/1190-Access-Fund-Application-Form.pdf [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].
Department of Health. (2010). Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health in England. [online] Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216096/dh_127424.pdf [Accessed 9 Dec. 2018].
Personnel Today. (2017). Maintain employee wellbeing to reduce absence. [online] Available at: https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/maintain-employee-wellbeing-reduce-absence/ [Accessed 12 Dec. 2018].
Butland et al, D. (n.d.). Foresight: Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project. [online] Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/287937/07-1184x-tackling-obesities-future-choices-report.pdf [Accessed 9 Dec. 2018].
Sport & Physical Activity Levels by Local Authority. (2017). Isle of Wight Council Public Health.
Making the economic case for active travel: Active travel and economic performance: A ‘What Works’ review of evidence from cycling and walking schemes. (2017). Sustrans
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. (2012). 4. Promoting sustainable transport - National Planning Policy Framework - Guidance - GOV.UK. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-planning-policy-framework/4-promoting-sustainable-transport#para036 [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].