Who will prioritise climate change?

TAN is shocked the High Court has ruled that it was lawful for the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, not to consider the impacts on climate change when he approved the £27 billion Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) roads programme .

When our case was heard at the High Court in June, the Government admitted that Grant Shapps had only a briefing in front of him that said the roads programme was “consistent” with net zero. That’s it. No numerical analysis. Just a briefing that stated

Work on RIS2 started in 2015 and, by summer 2019, it was largely complete, with  plans to be published in autumn 2019. Then the Government decided to amend the Climate Change Act to set a new net zero target, a massive change, especially for transport as this sector’s emissions had barely changed in 30 years. Not only that, but the little analysis they did (which was not shown to Grant Shapps before he made his decision) was for only five schemes out of the 50 in RIS2!

Our lawyers argued that it was “obviously material” to consider how it would impact on climate targets, specifically those in the shorter term and the new net-zero target, when deciding whether to approve the “largest ever” road building programme. However the DfT lawyers argued that it was not necessary, and Mr Justice Holgate ruled that the “briefing, albeit laconic, was a legally adequate precis”. Climate change must be treated as an urgent priority requiring thorough analysis, not as an optional afterthought with a one-liner briefing.

We are in disbelief that the High Court has ruled that the DfT did not need to provide evidence to show Grant Shapps had considered the impact of the “largest ever” roads programme on climate targets. We have already sought permission to appeal and will be crowdfunding once again to bring an appeal.

Placed alongside the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which argues we must drive less to cut emissions fast enough, the £27 billion RIS2 roads programme is looking increasingly anachronistic, a relic of the twentieth century. As resistance to roadbuilding grows around the country on climate grounds, we believe RIS2 will increasingly be a target for Treasury cuts in the forthcoming spending review in the Autumn. RIS2 cash is the best hope for promised extra funding for cycling, walking and buses.

Our press release on the High Court’s decision is here

Full details of our RIS2 challenge are here


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