Personal incomes sacrificed to enable climate busting vanity road schemes to continue

Campaigners today criticised the Chancellor for failing to take the opportunity to save billions of pounds in tax rises by scrapping, white elephant road schemes. His decision to continue supporting carbon intensive infrastructure during a climate emergency and in the last few days of COP27 exposes the contradiction between the Government’s climate and roadbuilding policies [1]. Scrapping the top 5 most damaging schemes in the national roads programme (RIS2) could save the Exchequer £16bn [2] and avoid an extra 17 million tonnes of carbon.

It is widely acknowledged that global warming is now unlikely to be restricted to 1.5 degrees due to the failure of Governments to take sufficient action to cut emissions [3]. In the UK, however, not only is action sadly lacking or slow, things are being made worse. Only yesterday, two more national road schemes were approved by the Secretary of State which would increase emissions by 1.3 million tonnes CO2e [4].

The Government has also been criticised by the Information Commissioner and ordered to publish the traffic data behind the Transport Decarbonisation Plan [5]. It is suspected that this data will undermine the case for many schemes within the RIS2. TAN is currently challenging the approval of the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet, one of the worst carbon emitting schemes in RIS2 [6].

Chris Todd, Director of Transport Action Network [7] said:

“Jeremy Hunt has spurned a golden opportunity to ease the pain of millions of people around the country in order to continue with the Government’s vanity road building programme. Many of the roads will cost more than they will ever deliver in economic benefit. They make no economic sense at all, while also helping speed us along the road to climate breakdown.

“Some like the deeply unpopular Lower Thames Crossing and the Stonehenge Tunnel threaten both the economy and people’s quality of life and should be scrapped. They will undermine our ability to meet the deeply challenging climate targets that the Government says it is committed to. Rather than address these concerns, the Government’s response is to strip away environmental protections and speed up building these damaging schemes.”[8]

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

[1] In December 2020, the UK Government agreed its Nationally Determined Contribution to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This is threatened by roadbuilding schemes which are increasing emissions by many millions of tonnes of CO2e, even though Jeremy Hunt recommitted the Government to meet this target.

[2] See TAN’s letter to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer (18 October, 2022) and its press release

[3] 1.5 degrees rise limit now at risk

[4] The Government approved the A417 Missing Link and A57 Link Roads yesterday, Wednesday, 16 November, 2022. The A417 would result in nearly a million tonnes of additional CO2 emissions, while the A57 would increase emissions by over 300,000 tonnes. See full emissions from national roads programme RIS2 on TAN’s website.

[5] Professor Greg Marsden made the Freedom of Information request in March 2022, which was refused the following month by the DfT. He appealed and the DfT must now release the information by 13 December, 2022. He has said: “We simply cannot afford to lose any more time with there being one set of assumptions on the future of travel demand underpinning progress towards the Decarbonisation Plan, and another set used to justify expanding transport infrastructure.”

[6] TAN is currently awaiting permission from the High Court about its challenge to the granting of the DCO on the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet by the Transport Secretary on 18th August, 2022. TAN is currently raising funds for the challenge

[7] Transport Action Network was established to support local communities press for more sustainable transport in England and Wales. This involves fighting cuts to bus services, particularly in rural areas, and opposing damaging road schemes and large unsustainable developments.

[8] Paragraph 3.16 from the Autumn Statement: The government will seek to accelerate delivery of projects across its infrastructure portfolio, rather than focus on the list of projects that were flagged for acceleration in the Growth Plan. The government will continue to ensure that all infrastructure is delivered quickly through reforms to the planning system, including through updating National Policy Statements for transport, energy and water resources during 2023, and through sector-specific interventions.


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