Recent Developments in Polish Transport Policy: Conflicts Between Growth and Sustainability?
JUDGE E and KAMINSKI R, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
Speaking at a conference in Warsaw last October, the Polish Minister of Transport said: "The Europe of the mid-nineties has taken delight in its freedom and a new order for five years. From the point of view of transport, however, the new spatial order is
Speaking at a conference in Warsaw last October, the Polish Minister of Transport said: "The Europe of the mid-nineties has taken delight in its freedom and a new order for five years. From the point of view of transport, however, the new spatial order is just at its very inception." (Liberadzki, 1995). Though be was thus stating that the transformation of the transport sector in Poland (and Eastern Europe generally) was in its first stages, nevertheless the growth of individual motorisation in Poland has been generally welcomed by most people, whilst changes in the economy have favoured the growth of road freight transport over rail. The Polish Government sees the transport sector as one where change to European standards and regulations are most required in order to ease the movement of Poland into the European Union. At the same time, the integration of trunk roads and rail networks into the existing European system will provide a much needed boost to the economy. The immediate environmental problems of the rapid growth in road traffic, at both urban and inter-urban level since 1990, provide a justification for major transport investment in motorways, to ease movement and reduce pollution. But proposals for these are also opposed by environmental pressure groups who see motorways as making environmental problems worse in the longer term. The Polish situation is a microcosm of the conflicts facing policy makers throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
The issues in Poland are highlighted in the draft national transport policy document, developed over two years and published in May 1995. This has been accepted by Government (in August 1995) but is yet to pass through Parliament. It has been the subject of much current debate. This paper will outline the various strands of this debate and delineate the extent to which the new policy document adequately addresses issues in the environment/development debate in Poland. The contrast between the overt concern for the environment and the underlying economic imperatives is drawn out, while the relative "hands-off" approach of the new policy approaches to local government is discussed. To preface this discussion, the second section of the paper, after this introduction, will outline key changes in the Polish transport sector at urban and inter-urban level since 1989. This forms the backdrop to the consideration of the new transport policy in the third section. Following the discussion of the latter, and the debate surrounding it, the parallel development of innovative local transport poficies oriented to sustainable transport in Polish cities is discussed in the fourth section. This reveals different dimensions of the growth/sustainability debate. The fifth section concludes.
Association for European Transport