30 Jun 2011
The increase in population and vehicles has placed significant pressures on Northern Ireland’s transportation networks coupled with fiscal constraints and the need to reduce our environmental impacts. The revised Strategy concentrates on moving people rather than vehicles, creating space on the networks for people and also for freight and on maintaining what is in place and using it in a smarter way. At its core is a move towards greater sustainability which will contribute positively to growing the economy, improving the quality of life for all and reducing the transport impacts on the environment.
Key points in IPH response:
- Transport promotes health by enabling access to people and places and providing opportunities for physical activity. However it also threatens health through risk of fatality, injury, pollution, noise, congestion, stress, and severance of communities by roads.
- Transport and health are closely linked. How we move about our environment impacts on levels of physical activity. Walking, cycling and using public transport (walking/cycling to the halt) contributes to the recommended 30mins of physical activity on a daily basis. In Northern Ireland 59% of adults are either overweight or obese and 22% of children are overweight or obese – the RTS has a major role to play in tackling sedentary lifestyles in society. Obesity is also a major contributor to chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes which are predicted to increase by 30% in Northern Ireland by 2020.
- The health effects of transport are unequally distributed in society with disadvantaged people experiencing the least benefit and the most disbenefit. There is a need to ensure that transport is fairly distributed across society and does not contribute to existing health inequalities in Northern Ireland. IPH recommend a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is undertaken on the RTS.