The vice-chancellor of Aston University is to team up with Sir Nicholas Stern in a major review of UK road transport. The review, announced yesterday by Gordon Brown during his Budget speech, will assess how Government can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from road transport over the next 25 years.
Prof Julia King, who took up her position as Vice Chancellor in December, said she was delighted to be working on such a critical issue. She said: " It's very exciting. The review will deal with road transport, but with a focus on cars.
"We all value the personal independence of a car and, while we all should walk more and use public transport, the reality is we're not going to suddenly give up our cars.
"So we have to identify the really promising technologies and fuels that will reduce the carbon emissions of road transport and we need to find out the UK can develop them and economically benefit from them."
Prof King is an engineer with a background in aerospace. She spent 13 years at Rolls Royce holding a variety of senior positions including managing director of Rolls-Royce Fan Systems.
Before her post at Aston, Prof King was principal of the faculty of engineering at Imperial College London.
She was awarded the CBE in 1999 for ‘services to materials engineering’.
She said: " "I will be providing the technical and engineering knowledge and Nicholas Stern will provide the strong economic aspect which will lead into policy.
"I think the Government were keen to find someone with the right sort of technical experience but not from the car or fuel industries.
"It means we can stand back and collate the opinions of these industries and also look at what independent people are thinking and what is happening abroad.
"That way we don't get a view steeped in the car industry, but their views will still be treated as important.
Prof King said the Government felt it was important to focus on road transport as it a more less costly problem to tackle than aviation.
She said: " I recognise and the Budget report recognises that alternate fuel in aviation would be a high cost option and it is better to focus on road transport, which is more cost effective.
"Transport is approaching a quarter of all emissions in the UK and air travel is only three or four per cent. Emissions are primarily from road transport, air travel attracts attention because of its rapid growth."
Prof King said she was also pleased that the review would have a base in the West Midlands.