Green Groups Outraged As UK Government Presses On With £27.4bn Road-Building Plan

  • Date: 25/08/20
  • Eddie News

The Treasury and Highways England are facing criticism after the latest string of details about the UK Government’s £27.4bn road-building plan was published, with green groups arguing that the money would have been better spent on public transport and digital infrastructure.

Road transport accounted for one-fifth of the UK's emissions in 2019

Road transport accounted for one-fifth of the UK’s emissions in 2019

In a statement published late on Friday (21 August), Highways England confirmed that it will be undertaking projects accounting for £14bn of the government’s £27.4bn Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2) as part of the UK’s Covid-19 stimulus plan. RIS2 was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the 2020 Budget and will run through to 2025.

The body was keen to emphasise the potential sustainability benefits of its plans, touting £1bn of investment in community-centric projects intended to improve walking, cycling and horse riding infrastructure; boost flood resilience or conserve cultural heritage. It also argued that its plans would help to halt biodiversity loss and would support 64,000 jobs in the construction industry.

Many of the projects detailed in Highways England’s plans do not involve capacity additions. Aside from building a new road tunnel under the Thames between Essex and Kent, improving road access to Stonehenge and widening the A19 in Sunderland to support plans for a new manufacturing park, the plans include 5,000 miles of resurfacing and 1,000 miles of safety barriers.

Green campaigners have voiced anger and disappointment in the plans, in much the same way that they did at the original RIS2 announcement. The main difference in response this time was that, after months of remote working, groups were particularly keen to see funding divested from roads and directed towards broadband connectivity.

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