Much work has focused on the development of indicator sets to monitor changes in the sustainability of transport. Such indicator sets are however, often quite divorced from those used in decision-making and fail to include clear sustainability goals to work towards. This research describes the development of a sustainability appraisal framework in conjunction with a series of key decision-makers in England. A case study of a real set of strategy options tested in a metropolitan area is outlined and the results used to assess the extent to which current strategy development in the United Kingdom produces the information required to both assess and communicate progress towards sustainability. The results suggest that although sustainability exists as a concept, it is poorly defined. This definition deficit has serious implications for the types of strategies tested. First, information on some aspects of sustainability is not produced and so these aspects are marginalized. Secondly, the lack of policy goals and the dominant welfare economics assessment paradigm allow unsustainable strategies to be justified provided they perform better than an unsustainable ‘do-minimum’. The paper concludes with some recommendations for the policy and research communities to bridge the current gap in thinking.
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