I don’t mean for this to start with me bitching but it’s how the story goes so I’ll begin with it. I can whine if I like, this is my blog after all. On my way to a site of special scientific interest for one of my university projects on Saturday I was forced to make a detour or two that resulted in a long walk and many-a-blister. The reason for this obstruction was the creation of a new tram line which is currently blocking a major road. Now, I’m all for easier access and cleaner travel, but if we’re measuring up the environmental costs of having a tram (when PR dictates that the finer points of cleaner public transport are flaunted in this case) we not only have to take into account the amount of travel in ‘dirtier’ (for lack of a better term) forms of transport this will divert, but also the substantial cost to the environment of clearing an area long enough and large enough to connect two areas and fit a tram through.
Given that most residential areas are covered in houses (for obvious reasons), these developments have a fair chance of finding the route that goes through the least houses, which gives it a fair chance of going through paths of greenery, places that are holdouts for wildlife. I don’t see transport companies offering to plant a hundred hedgerows to make up for this but I could have just looked past that part, I’m not interested enough in public transport to know exactly how their plan is being conducted. In this case however, there’s rather a lot of habitat being flattened (a process that seems to be finished by now, if not close to finishing), and I would like to use this as an example of seeing more sides of an issue than we tend to assume. It’s easy to say that building this system will make transport cleaner, but there are costs to doing this, and it’s important that we understand that as decent as such a development might sound at first glance, there’s always a cost.