The Transport group met in Aberdeen (UK), 1 – 2 March, where they in addition to a working group meeting also attended a workshop on autonomous vehicles and a transnational seminar on funding opportunities for green transport and mobility. Here is a summary from the three events.
Workshop on autonomous vehicles
Michael Glotz-Richter from the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen conducted a workshop on autonomous vehicles (AVs) on 1 March. The workshop provided basic information on the technical features of AVs, and heard updates on recent developments in the automotive industry. AVs have a strong potential for making transport safer, more efficient and more accessible to certain groups, but such vehicles are also raising concerns related to safety, liability and data privacy, as well as to employment (redundancy of transport workers). Mr. Glotz-Richter emphasised the need for drafting European regulations on AVs (the European Commission has initiated a process on this) as there are several issues which need to be resolved. He stressed that the political level must steer the developments – not the industry and technology providers. He believed that NSC member regions, and their politicians, could play an important role in raising awareness and obtaining public acceptance of the different aspects involved. The regions could also contribute to the development of scenarios in this field. Some member regions are already in the process of conducting trials within AVs, and might consider to develop project proposals to European funding programmes. It was also informed that the Norwegian Ministry of Transport has recently conducted a public consultation on a draft law for testing self-driving vehicles on roads.
Transport Working Group Meeting, Aberdeenshire on the 2 March
Representatives from member regions in Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany attended the meeting as well as representatives from the Presidency and the Secretariat.
Much is going on within the development of alternative fuels (bio, Hydrogen and electricity) in public transport and shipping, and some regions have also started trials with autonomous buses. A number of major infrastructure projects on rail, road and in ports are underway. Aberdeenshire Council is lead partner, and several members partner to an application to the Interreg North Sea Region Programme on the development of public transport in rural areas.
While Møre og Romsdal will take the responsibility for coordinating the group’s activities on clean shipping, in cooperation with Hordaland and Vest-Agder, the position as “task holder” for clean transport is still vacant. The NSC Secretariat would like to encourage any member region interested in the position to let it know. A task holder would be expected to monitor relevant policy developments at European level, update the group on technological developments, new EU projects and cooperation fora, and eventually liaise with relevant stakeholders.
The Port of Kristiansand in Vest-Agder has called for the introduction of international regulations on equipment for shore side electricity in order to give the cruise lines clear incentives to do the necessary investments in ships, enabling them to connect to shore power in ports. Vest-Agder will draft a resolution on this issue to the NSC Annual Business Meeting in June.
The group continuous to follow the development of the TEN-T core network corridors and will start drafting input to the geographical configuration of the future CEF post 2020 – in terms of which links to promote for the core network corridors.
The next group meeting will take place in Göttingen, Germany on 29 June 09 -12 hrs.
Transnational seminar on funding opportunities for green transport and mobility
The Transport group co-organised a Transnational seminar on funding opportunities for green transport and mobility in cooperation with the Interreg North Sea Region Programme Secretariat, in Aberdeen on 2 March. The main purpose of the seminar was to generate more applications to the transport priority of the programme, as rather few transport projects have been approved so far. Several project ideas were presented at the seminar – targeting the upcoming call for Expression of Interest (1st stage applications) between 30 June and 20 August. The Adviser presented the group’s perspective on green transport in accordance with the corresponding NSR 2020 priority. He also highlighted how the group could act as platform for project development and a channel for dissemination of results, as well as to foster political legitimacy for recommendations from Interreg projects. The North Sea Region Programme Secretariat is encouraging the Transport group to come forward with project ideas to the next call.