Fast-track to climate catastrophe

Transport Action Network (TAN) is deeply concerned at Government proposals announced yesterday to bulldoze through new road schemes in even shorter timescales with even less public scrutiny [1]. Delivering road projects faster is said to be “essential to support…net zero” and to “enhance and protect the environment” [2].

The announcement comes after multiple delays to major road schemes due to poor quality consultation and environmental information by National Highways and delays by ministers in taking decisions [3].

Chris Todd, director for TAN said:

“There is absolutely no case for road-building to be part of the fast-track process for green infrastructure. Current delays are down to poor proposals from National Highways and slow decision making by the Secretary of State. The public should not see their rights eroded and scrutiny undermined to cover up problems in the DfT and elsewhere. New roads are hugely damaging projects that are putting our climate targets at risk.

“Coming on the back of planning inspectors heavily criticising flagship schemes like the A303 Stonehenge and A428, the idea that new roads can meet quality standards seems ever more fanciful. Local communities constantly face greater community severance and environmental degradation from these schemes.

“While public transport improvements and green energy infrastructure need to be delivered quicker, to seek to bundle road-building into these proposals is cynical beyond belief. With record temperatures and drought hitting the UK this summer, these proposals are out of step with climate commitments and the public mood.”

TAN also believes that National Highways has an unfair advantage in the current process with access to vast public resources to defend its proposals while local communities have to fund the scrutiny of the application from their own pockets. This is not a level playing field and this imbalance is not dealt with in these proposals.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

[1] DLUHC press release: Fast-track planning route to speed up major infrastructure projects, 30 August, 2022. (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

[2] DLUHC Policy paper: Improving performance of the NSIP planning process and supporting local authorities, 30 August 2022

[3] Examples of delayed schemes:

  1. Several schemes on the A27 were scheduled for delivery in the first Roads Investment Strategy (RIS1: 2015 – 2020) including the Arundel Bypass, Chichester improvement and Worthing-Lancing Improvements. All are massively behind schedule with Chichester now only a pipeline scheme for RIS3.
  2. A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Road is several years behind schedule – another RIS1 scheme
  3. A303 Stonehenge is another RIS1 scheme now being pushed into RIS3 which has been heavily criticised by UNESCO, planning inspectors and the public and was the subject of a successful legal challenge. Despite this National Highways continues to claim its proposals would benefit the World Heritage Site, which even the Secretary of State disagreed with.
  4. M25 J10 / A3 Wisley interchange: the original deadline for a decision was 12 January 2021. Grant Shapps extended the time for him to make a decision 3 times before finally making a decision on 12 May 2022, some 16 months late.
  5. M54-M6 Link Road: the original deadline for a decision was 21 October 2021. Grant Shapps extended the deadline by 6 months to 21 April, 2022 when he made his decision.


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