7 January 2013
The Government's mid-term review statement contains no reference to plans to build new roads with private investment , despite being trailed by the Prime Minister over the weekend. The proposals have previously been criticised by transport campaigners.
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport said:
"The omission of any detail on using private finance and tolls for new road building shows how unworkable they are finding this policy to be, as we warned last year. The policy was first announced more than nine months ago in March 2012, and yet ministers have found no way to make this work, despite continually talking about plans for a new road programme.
"While wasting time on chasing unrealistic dreams of glossy new toll roads, the government is not addressing the real transport problems facing ordinary people. Most people want the government to focus on fixing potholes, stopping cuts to buses and cancelling above-inflation rail fare rises.
"We have warned that any new private roads programme will face opposition from motorists and local campaigners and we can already see the start of a new wave of road protests today. Local people and environmentalists in the Combe Haven near Hastings are right now defending a unique and historic valley against the construction of a damaging road. Alongside equally fierce opposition from motorists to new charges, Government can only expect more actions like this if it presses on with its road-building plans."[4,5]
1. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
2. The mid-term review document makes no mention of the feasibility study commissioned by the Prime Minister in March 2012. This was announced in a speech to the CBI in which he said: “We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private investment into the national roads network – from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other investors.That's why I have asked the Department for Transport and the Treasury to carry out a feasibility study of new ownership and financing models for the national roads system and to report progress to me in the Autumn.”
- Mid-term review document: http://assets.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.s3-external-3.amazonaws.com/midtermreview/HMG_MidTermReview.pdf
- Full text of CBI speech: http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2012/03/19/david-cameron-s-road-privatisation-speech-in-full
3. Problems with Private Roads, Campaign for Better Transport, August 2012: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/files/admin/Problems_with_Private_Roads_FinalWeb.pdf
4. At the same time as the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were giving their press conference, dramatic scenes were taking place in the Combe Haven valley in East Sussex. Protestors occupying trees are resisting efforts by security guards and chainsaw contractors to start construction works for the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR).
See the Combe Haven Defenders’ website and twitter for the latest news from the construction protests:
5. In March 2012, CfBT, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and local campaigners jointly called the BHLR “The most environmentally harmful and least economically justifiable road scheme currently being proposed in England"
CfBT press release and joint letter ahead of the funding decision on the BHLR: http://bettertransport.org.uk/media/12-mar-bexhill-hastings-link-road