INCREASING cycling by a stonking 2,000 per cent is among the targets set for the region over the next 18 years.

Other aims include slashing car use by 21 per cent and increasing walking by 78 per cent.

The targets have been set by West Yorkshire Combined Authority as it bids to become ‘net zero’ for carbon production by 2038.

It is also striving for sales of petrol and diesel cars to end by 2030, or 2035 at the latest.

But some councillors questioned how realistic the targets are, when the combined authority’s transport committee discussed the plans at a virtual meeting.

Councillor Neil Buckley said: “Some of the assumptions about private cars and petrol and diesel ending by 2035 are – you could say – either heroic or potty.”

He also questioned the feasibility of another proposal – to reduce emissions from air travel – at a time when the region’s airport had ambitions of expansion.

Committee chairman, Cllr Kim Groves, agreed the targets were set high but said the region must strive to achieve them.

“They are heroic targets – to get more cars off the road – but we should all be determined to find a way to achieve them,” she said. “They may be huge targets but it is crucial we get this right.”

Her comments were echoed by Councillor Peter Carlill, who added: “This plan is what needs to happen.

“Rather than changing our targets, shouldn’t we be having conversations about whether what is happening on the ground needs to change?”

And Councillor Colin Campbell said the targets had to be ambitious.

“It is always easy not to do something,” he said. “We are at a stage where we can’t do that any more.

“We should have tackled these things in the past but we always found a reason for not doing it.

“You can wring your hands and say ‘people won’t accept this’ but I think we’ve gone beyond that stage. We have to be ambitious, and dictatorial in some ways.”

The combined authority – which comprises councillors representing Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees councils – is responsible for major transport and infrastructure projects across West Yorkshire. Targets were set in response to the authority declaring a climate emergency and vowing to do more to reduce carbon emissions. The meeting heard that as part of the strategy, all transport projects must include details of how they’d improve the environment.