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Government vision for roads is ‘short-sighted’

28 October 2014

Document intended to tackle parliamentary concerns undervalues environmental impacts

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is warning that new Department for Transport plans to run our roads system [1] lack long-term vision.

The new report, entitled Transparency for Roads, is being launched today ahead of next week’s Lords scrutiny of provisions to transfer the Highways Agency into an arms-length company. These legal changes are contained in the Infrastructure Bill, which the Government is seeking to rush into law by March 2015. In July CPRE proposed a raft of amendments to the Bill to make sure that communities and the countryside are protected, while congestion is tackled effectively.

Ralph Smyth, transport campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments:

“Government claims of a long-term vision for roads simply don’t add up. Its new roads watchdog, Transport Focus, would be so short-sighted that it could only consider the environment in terms of ‘the view out of the car window’. Anything beyond that, such as the air or noise pollution faced by communities living alongside roads, or the potential for new coach services or safe cycle routes, would be out of its focus. [2]

“With some of the lowest cycling and bus use in Europe, plus some of the worst air quality and noise impacts from roads, we urgently need to see a change in direction. [3] But while proper scrutiny of the wider impacts of roads policy would help us catch up with the progress made by neighbouring countries, it could damage the Government’s case for the biggest roads programme since the 1970s.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] Department for Transport press release: Government sets out how new safeguards will help reform England’s roads (28 October 2014).

[2] The Chief Executive of Passenger Focus acknowledged at a meeting of the Road Users Stakeholder Advisory Board on 24 September that the new body would be limited to considering the needs of existing road users and that changes to the Infrastructure Bill would be required if its role were to be expanded.

[3] Only 2% of UK journeys are cycled and 6% made by bus (source: Eurostat 2012). 3 million people outside major cities are subjected to noise from major roads – which is above World Health Organisation guidelines - and the UK is not on track to meet EU air pollution standards until 2030 now (source Defra, 2014).

If you would like to talk to Ralph for more detail then please contact Benjamin Halfpenny on 020 7981 2819 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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