Hampshire County Council signed up to the four year MIRACLES Project (Multi Initiatives for Rationalised Accessibility and Clean Liveable EnvironmentS) in 2002. The project was part of the European Commission’s CIVITAS Initiative, and consisted of a wide range of integrated, innovative and sustainable urban transport measures. CIVITAS I involved 19 cities throughout Europe, each working in one of four projects. The objectives were:
to promote and implement sustainable, clean and efficient urban transport;
to implement and test real change by integrated packages of technology and policy measures in the field of energy and transport;
to build up critical mass and markets.
All the work carried out within MIRACLES was designed to reduce the impact of vehicles in an urban area. To achieve this aim work was grouped into eight main themes. These were:
reduction of high-polluting vehicles,
sustainable parking policies;
improvements to public transport;
promotion of cycling;
improving freight efficiency;
promotion of sustainable travel;
travel information systems;
reducing the impact of public and private fleets.
The MIRACLES project involved the four cities of Winchester, Rome, Barcelona and Cork, supported by many other local partners including local authorities, public transport operators, transport organisations, academic institutions and consultants.
Winchester was selected due to increasing issues of congestion and air pollution. With its cathedral and other historic buildings Winchester is a major tourist attraction. It is also home to a popular shopping centre and, in its role as County Town, is home to several large employers including the County Council, Hampshire Constabulary and the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.
Winchester’s many attractions, combined with a high level of car use, mean that large volumes of traffic enter and leave the city each day. An ancient street pattern still exists in many areas, which is ill-equipped to deal with today’s heavy traffic. As a consequence Winchester was declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2003. This was because air pollution from transport exceeded the acceptable levels set by Government.
To help address these issues Hampshire County Council developed various initiatives for the City, based on the eight CIVITAS themes. These were implemented with the help of several organisations and companies. The key partners were Winchester City Council, the Transportation Research Group at University of Southampton, Stagecoach (South East) Ltd, the Met Office and Atkins Consultants.
A description of the initiatives and their impact is provided in the links to the left of this screen.
The project has achieved many positive outputs, that have made a real difference to the city of Winchester. Significant events that have occurred during, and as part of the MIRACLES Project include:
the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) by Winchester City Council on 4 September 2003;
the Quality Bus Partnership with Stagecoach, signed on 22 September 2003;
the 760 space extension of Winchester Park and Ride, opened on 18 December 2003;
the subsequent full parking review undertaken by Winchester City Council in spring 2004.
Partnerships have been developed and strengthened, ensuring outcomes such as the Quality Bus Partnership and parking policies, continue after the life of the project. It has also helped raise awareness of travel issues amongst businesses and residents through vehicle trials, travel information systems and general promotion of the project.
The overall impact of MIRACLES is difficult to measure and the full effects of the measures may not be evident for a number of years. However, levels of NO2 have reduced by 37% since 1997, CO has fallen to such a level that monitoring is no longer necessary and particulates are now 30% lower than the annual mean objective.
The project has provided valuable experience and knowledge, which has been shared with our European partners and other cities in the UK and further afield. The results will help develop future policies for Hampshire, the UK and throughout Europe.