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Road report ignores reality of Peak Oil

Road report ignores reality of Peak Oil

Green Party Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons is questioning the sense in building billions of dollars worth of new roads around the country when the rising price of oil will eventually leave them empty.

The roading spend-up is recommended in an AA-commissioned report released this morning. It claims the economic benefits of completing a national passing lanes project, Auckland’s western ring road, Wellington's regional land transport package and Western Bay of Plenty's Strategic Roading Network will be four times the outlay of $2.4 billion.

“This report applies to a fantasy world in which petrol is less than a dollar a litre and where everyone owns a car and drives it everywhere,” said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party’s Transport spokesperson. “The reality is we’re fast using up all the easily extractible oil reserves and fast approaching the point of peak oil supply, after which oil will be priced beyond the affordability of the ordinary motorist.

“As oil prices continue to climb, it will affect the cost of constructing new projects and it will also suppress demand. Planners should be preparing for a fundamental change in transport behaviour, rather than fuelling road-builders’ fantasies.

“A case in point is the Western bay of Plenty project, which is touted in the AA report as demonstrating ‘the greatest benefits to its region and the nation for every dollar spent’.

“The Port of Tauranga already has an excellent rail terminal that receives 60 per cent of the freight arriving at the port.

“Instead of throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at building roads for trucks, we should be looking at using the existing rail network throughout the Bay and the surrounding region and building links to key industries that use the port.

“Similarly in Auckland, which has already invested in Britomart and improved rail services. The priority must be to connect the city by rail, with a city-to-airport line and a connection from Britomart to the western line, so that the city is part of a through-service and not just a rail dead-end.

“Peak Oil is a reality and we should be planning now for the inevitable change in lifestyle, habitation and transport that it will bring. Building roads that will remain empty is not the answer.”

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