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Roads to Nowhere

National roads policy? National disaster!

The Department for Transport's draft National Policy Statement (NPS) aims at building new roads for 40% more car, van and lorry trips by 2040, while the Infrastructure Bill would create a new 'Strategic Highways Company' with a guaranteed budget of tens of billions for road-building. We need your help opposing both these pieces of legislation - and proposing improvements - before the next election.

"We're announcing the largest programme of investment in our roads for half a century"
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

In early 2014 we asked everyone concerned about transport, the countryside and climate change to tell the Government to abandon and rewrite the NPS and more than 5,800 people responded to their consultation - a record for any NPS under the new system. Thank you for taking action!

 

Space for 40% more traffic

If it goes through, the new planning policy would let massive road-building plans take precedence over damage to nature, the countryside and precious landscapes.

This would involve thousands of extra lanes of road capacity, increase car dependency and choke our towns and cities with traffic we could otherwise avoid. The Government's own evidence shows people are already choosing better ways to travel where they can: traffic UK-wide is now lower than it was ten years ago.

"Increases in carbon emissions from a development should not therefore need to be considered"
Draft National Policy Statement

Children at Combe Haven protests 2013 - photo Adrian ArbibClimate concerns gagged

Most outrageously, climate pledges are brushed under the carpet with a clause that prevents campaigners objecting to road projects on the grounds of carbon emissions.

Saying that other policies will 'offset' the impact of more car travel, the draft policy tells planning examiners to ignore carbon emissions when making decisions.

What happens next on the NPS?

The NPS underwent Parliamentary scrutiny in early 2014. The Commons Transport Committee produced a report which was highly skeptical of the forecast of 40% more traffic (following up on a similar report on the Infrastructure Bill) and a debate was held in the House of Lords in May.

A new draft of the National Policy Statement is expected alongside the Autumn Statement on 3 December, and this will then pass through Parliament in a process known as 'designation' where amendments and objections can be lodged by MPs and Lords.

NPS links

Blogs:

Media release: Select Committee reports throw Government roads policy into disarray

Read the Transport Committee's report on the NPS

Hansard report of the House of Lords debate on the NPS

What happens next on the Infrastructure Bill?

The Infrastructure Bill was part of the Queen's Speech in June 2014 and combines a range of planning and organisational changes designed to reduce barriers to road building. In a risky move for the Government, the Bill is also expected to include later amendments with measures to increase the ability of fracking companies to drill under homes without permission.

Introduced via the House of Lords, the Bill's second reading debate was held on 18 June and grand commitee debates - where possible amendments are discussed but not voted on - were held during July.

The next stage for the Bill in the House of Lords is the 'report stage', where more amendments are being proposed, including a big change to include a whole new long-term strategy on walking and cycling (this would bring active travel in line with rail and what is being proposed for roads - read our blog on the proposed amendment here:

Follow the progress of the Bill here

 

Infrastructure Bill links:

Blogs:

The Transport Committee's report on plans for the Highways Agency

Read the Lords debates online via Hansard:

CPRE's briefing on the Infrastructure Bill