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Department for Transport’s road plans are a backward step

14 December 2011
Campaign for Better Transport is warning that the Government is taking a step backwards by giving the go ahead for 18 road projects, including 11 new bypasses and link roads, while putting two major public transport improvements on hold.

Responding to the announcement today of the go ahead for 41 of the 45 transport schemes in the Department for Transport’s Development Pool, Sian Berry, Campaign for Better Transport’s sustainable transport campaigner, said:

“The Government has bulldozed common sense by giving almost blanket approval to road schemes across the county. We've been working with local campaigners for many years to highlight cheaper and less damaging alternatives, but now local taxpayers will have to foot the bill for these expensive and unnecessary roads whilst other council services are cut. Instead of funding these dinosaur projects, the extra £351m the Treasury has managed to find to fund these new roads would be much better spent on public transport schemes and road maintenance.”

The charity has however welcomed the announcement of funding for a number of urban public transport projects, including the Croxley Rail Link in Watford and bus rapid transit services in Yorkshire and Lancashire, but says delays to decisions on the Leeds Trolleybus and South Essex rapid transit are irrational when incredibly damaging and poor value projects like the Norwich Northern Distributor Route are being given tens of millions of pounds.
Back in September, Campaign for Better Transport completed a detailed study of the full and final bids for all the schemes and discovered some councils were risking huge sums of public money at a time of unprecedented cuts to local budgets. Some councils had doubled or trebled their proposed financial contribution in less than a year and some were planning to borrow the money with only speculative ideas on how it would be paid back.

The Government announced after the Spending Review that the money available to local authority transport schemes would be reduced and 45 schemes would enter a Development Pool to compete for £630m of Government funding to ensure only the best and most cost effective were approved. The Chancellor announced funding for 20 of the schemes as part of his Autumn Statement and has now agreed to provide a further £351m for the 21 schemes announced today.

Today’s announcement means hugely expensive roads like the Norwich Northern Distributor Road will go ahead despite local opposition. Proceeding with the 41 schemes announced so far will cost the Government more than £981m - £351m more than originally envisaged – with an additional £502m being contributed by local authorities.

Notes to Editors

1. The 41 schemes in the Development Pool given approval so far include 18 new roads, 13 public transport projects, five maintenance projects and five mixed transport schemes. Read the full statement from the Department for Transport here.

2. Campaign for Better Transport’s briefing on all the schemes is available here.

3. 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).