TAN statement on Smart Motorways announcement

Scrap Smart Motorways to prevent climate change

Transport Action Network welcomes today’s announcement that another three Smart Motorway schemes have been paused by the Government (the M3 Junction 9-14 scheme was already paused in November 2021).

However the ten-mile M6 Junction 21a – 26 scheme should also have been paused as it only started work in March 2021, ten months ago, so is less than 50% complete. The announcement said that all the schemes that will be allowed to progress are more than 50% complete.

National Highways own data shows that the M6 Smart Motorway scheme will increase carbon emissions by over 4 million extra tonnes due to increasing traffic, making it the most carbon-emitting scheme in the RIS2 roads programme.

The four Smart Motorway schemes that have been paused would have led to more tragic and avoidable deaths, but National Highways’ own data shows they would also have increased carbon emissions by over 3.8 million extra tonnes and cost over £1 billion. We welcome that these schemes have been suspended.

Rebecca Lush, roads and climate campaigner for Transport Action Network, said:

“Pausing some of the Smart Motorway schemes not only saves lives now, but will also prevent 3.8 million tonnes of additional carbon emissions from increased road capacity and traffic growth. However, the Government must also pause the M6 Junction 21a-26 Smart Motorway scheme which has only just started work. Halting this, the largest emitting scheme in its RIS2 roads programme, together with the other four Smart Motorways would save a massive 8 million tonnes of carbon. 

“If the Government was busy delivering on its COP26 commitments it would be aiming to reduce traffic, not increase it. These roads would then not be needed and much anguish and climate damage could be avoided.”

Transport Action Network would like to pay tribute to the tenacious and extremely effective campaigning by Claire Mercer and her team at Smart Motorways Kill, and the bravery of the families who have also spoken up about their tragic losses. It was their relentless campaigning and bravery that has resulted in the Transport Select Committee’s recommendation and forced the Government to take action.

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