There was a record-breaking negative response to the Government's draft planning policy for main roads. Thanks to all our supporters for sharing the need to take action!
Despite launching close to Christmas, the consultation on the draft National Policy Statement for National Networks did not go unnoticed, and plans to expand motorways and trunk roads to make space for 40% more traffic were roundly condemned.
A wide range of campaign groups - and a record number of individuals - wrote in, concerned about the return to 1980s 'predict and provide' policies, as well as plans for a 'climate gag' clause to prevent communities raising carbon emissions when new roads are seeking planning permission.
Our online action saw more than 1,800 of our supporters sending in objections. Added to those responding via the model letter provided by CPRE and others sending comments directly to the Government, we know that over 5,000 responses were received by the deadline of 26 February.
This makes the National Policy Statement (NPS) for National Networks the most controversial NPS ever drafted (even more than the Energy NPSs, covering nuclear and wind power) and we hope this will be decisive in making sure the Government rethinks its plans.
And from other campaign groups:
- Campaign to Protect Rural England
- North West Transport Activists Roundtable (Word)
- Campaign for National Parks (pdf)
Transport professionals join the objections
Influential professional transport bodies are also strongly opposed to the policy and are very frustrated that a range of alternative transport measures were ignored, particularly demand management and the potential for land-use planning to reduce the need to travel.
The effect of expanding the motorway and trunk road network on local roads (where more than 99% of journeys start and finish) is also a massive problem for these expert bodies, who often work with local authorities on transport planning and are very concerned about the policy leading to more local congestion.
The Local Government Technical Advisor's Group (TAG) response is well worth reading in full. It says:
"Our overall views on the NN NPS as presently written are that it appears to be:
- based on a number of false premises not based on evidence;
- not integrated for planning or whole journeys
- strongly influenced by effective lobbying from a business sector with strong vested interests in future strategic transport studies and the construction of major new infrastructure."
"TAG apologises if its response is somewhat critical of an honest effort to produce a National Network National Policy Statement but it considers so much is wrong with the starting point for this Statement that it would be very damaging for the country and its people without a fresh start."
The Transport Planning Society was equally critical, calling the roads section of the policy "one of the weakest policy statements of recent years", and saying:
"TPS considers that the paragraphs rejecting demand and other forms of management are unjustified and counter-productive. These need to be replaced. Land use planning and the relationship with local networks need to be fully recognised. Overall our criticism is fundamental and requires a detailed response."
Both bodies are essentially calling for the roads parts of the policy to be ripped up and started again – a proposal we fully endorse at Campaign for Better Transport!