ASTRAL Achieving Sustainability in Transport and Land Use, is an Accompanying Measure. It was prepared by the representatives of six projects funded under Task 4.4.1 of Key Action 4: City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage, in the Environment and Sustainable Development programme.
Its target was to develop planning tools, assessment methodologies and best practices aimed at managing future transport demand through integrated land use and transport planning, reducing individual motorised vehicle movements and encouraging greater use of collective and other sustainable transport modes. As noted in the Task's brief, the implementation of optimised urban planning in a sustainable way requires indicators, scenarios and models to describe and optimise urban land use and transport patterns; it also needs an analysis of the institutional, legal and financial barriers to optimised planning.
Overall, the six projects covered the main requirements of the brief focusing specifically on:
- The development of guidance in decision-making;
- Enhancements in land-use transport interaction models;
- Improved evaluation procedures;
- Design to enhance non-motorised modes; and
- Identification and dissemination of best practices.
A cluster for Land Use and Transportation Research (LUTR), was formed involving all six projects and a limited budget to maintain a mutual awareness of the projects' findings. It was subsequently expanded to include other projects funded under Task 4.4.1, and ASTRAL proved to be flexible enough to involve these other projects within the existing timetable constraints. Their involvement was limited to participation in workshops, and financed within their own budgets.
The acronym ASTRAL was used to specify the work under the Accompanying Measure (as described in the DoW). LUTR is retained to identify the wider range of land use and transport research under Task 4.4.1. Subsequently, PLUME, a more extensive project, was funded facilitating an end user group of cities and other agencies, a projects group to review the results of all research in the LUTR cluster, and an exploitation group to ensure that research results were exploited in order to meet the needs of each Member State. To some extent the activities planned for ASTRAL were subsumed under PLUME and further enhanced.
The primary objective of ASTRAL was to assist national governments, cities, non-governmental organisations, interest groups and individuals in obtaining maximum benefit from the research undertaken by the Cluster. This was achieved by maximising the potential of the existing synergy among the six projects and related research (sub-objectives 1 and 2), and intensifying the dissemination of the findings throughout Europe (sub-objectives 3-5).
This objective was achieved through a series of five sub-objectives:
- Critical comparison of the preliminary results of the six projects, and modification of future research plans, where appropriate;
- Liaison with international, national and regional projects working in related areas;
- Dissemination to a wider audience of these preliminary results, and advice on future research plans;
- Development and maintenance of a website to allow users to interact with the projects; and
- Dissemination of the project results to cities in the EU and Accession Countries.
The objectives were achieved through a series of Work Packages. Five of which were technical Work Packages, each one with its own Deliverable(s). These followed a logical sequence. One of the Work Packages provided the coordination, the management and the quality assurance throughout the whole duration of the project.
Opportunities for collaboration were identified, in some of which all projects participated, and in others of which those most directly involved compared proposals and results.
The first group included a common definition of sustainability, a set of conceptual frameworks, a common list of performance indicators, a glossary of terms, a city database to be included in the website, and a common list of policy instruments.
The second group covered research into the policy process, the implementation process, modelling methods, appraisal techniques, the use of thresholds and targets, barriers to implementation, citizen participation, and transferability of results.
Collaborative work in all of these areas was subsequently transferred to the sister project, PLUME. The first dissemination workshop, hosted by the European Commission and the European Parliament in January 2002, was attended by over 150 delegates from Member States and accession countries, including national, regional and city representatives, international and national researchers, other stakeholders, MEPs and members of the Commission. It provided an opportunity for delegates, both to learn about the research programme and to contribute to recommendations for the dissemination and extension of the research programme. Key messages included:
- the need to disconnect transport growth from economic growth;
- the importance of intra-generational equity issues;
- the implications of time lags in the policy process, particularly in terms of land use interventions;
- the need to help cities tackle today's problems as well as researching future solutions;
- the importance of synergy between the research projects (a key focus of ASTRAL);
- the need to identify and disseminate good practice;
- the potential of citizen education and awareness campaigns in enhancing sustainability;
- the links between transport, land use and Europe's unique cultural heritage; and
- the case for policy intervention at a European level.
A summary was produced of almost 60 related regional, national and international research projects in the subject area, and an interactive website was developed for project partners and end users. This was used as a basis for further comparative research in PLUME. The dedicated website, www.lutr.net, was established, and contains descriptions of all projects, details of the case study cities, an annotated bibli
The project identified a number of areas for collaboration between the LUTR Cluster projects, and provided links to some 60 related projects worldwide. It has also developed a website through which further collaboration can be stimulated. It provided the starting point for the more extensive project: PLUME, involving researchers and end users in the assimilation and testing of research results, and their wider dissemination and exploitation.