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Roads to Nowhere

Roads programme reaction roundup: what's yours?

Sian Berry's picture

Today the Government published its Road Investment Strategy. Tell us what you'd rather see £30 billion spent on...

Today's announcements, kicked off by the Deputy Prime Minister at Stonehenge at dawn, mark the start of what the Department for Transport is calling the "the biggest upgrade to roads in a generation," with a huge increase in road capacity planned over the next five years.


Sign the petition for a longer tunnel at Stonehenge
to protect the World Heritage Site - Unesco advisors have warned that the current plans will risk permanent damage to the setting of our most priceless ancient monument.

Under threat from these plans are a wide range of vital wildlife sites, landscapes and priceless heritage.

The 'feasibility studies' that took place during the year and led to today's list of 80+ schemes have been fatally flawed.

Less damaging options - including a long tunnel at Stonehenge that would protect the World Heritage Site from new dual carriageways, and packages of public transport – ruled out from the start.

 

In response, we're calling the proposals "one of the most counterproductive policy decisions for a generation", with the new capacity set to generate new traffic and fill up again in short order.

In addition to the firm list of schemes up to 2021, a number of studies into even more ambitious road-building have been commissioned on the back of the feasibility studies.

We say: "Worse, the Government has given notice that its fixation with new tarmac will continue indefinitely with new studies into dualing the A66 and A69, an expressway between Oxford and Cambridge, and new London orbital outside the M25 and even a £6bn road tunnel under the Peak District.

"This is all happening while better, more sustainable, transport options like cycling and walking are not getting the investment they need, and buses are even seeing their funding being cut all over the country."

What do you think?

With £30 billion of road spending planned for the next five years in total, and potentially much more in future, we're asking what you'd like to see the money spent on instead. There's no need to limit ideas to transport - email us your ideas and photos, or share your thoughts online using #NewRoadsNoThanks.

Sian Berry
Download a blank poster and send us your ideas for how to spend £30 billion

Reaction from campaigners

Across the country, national and local transport campaigners have been reacting to the plans with dismayed and defiant messages, with many highlighting the better options that could have been funded. 

On the Today Programme on Radio 4, Ralph Smyth from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that any Stonehenge tunnel must be long enough to avoid new surface roads "that would protect the whole of the World Heritage Site, rather than duck in and duck out in that protected landscape."

Ruth ChappleIn their official response, CPRE said that: "With some of England’s most protected countryside in the firing line, nowhere seems to be safe from the bulldozer."

Friends of the Earth also condemned the programme: "Once again UK transport policy is heading in the wrong direction. This is yet more out-of-date thinking by the Government - tackling congestion by building or widening roads was discredited decades ago.

"Investment in transport is urgently needed, but the priority must be better trains, buses and cycling facilities, not an expensive road-building programme that will cause more traffic and air pollution and make it harder to tackle climate change."

Responding to plans for a series of offline bypasses on the A27, encroaching onto the South Downs National Park, Sue White, an Arundel resident and business woman told campaigners SCATE: "This would be a gross waste of money. We want smart, 21st century thinking for transport, not lumbering, outdated roads that we know will simply generate more traffic, increase local congestion and destroy town centres and small businesses, just as similar roads have done elsewhere."

The Campaign for National Parks criticised the plans and warned about their impact on protected landscapes across the country. Their Policy and Research Manager, Ruth Bradshaw said: "Ninety million people visit National Parks every year, eager to experience their unique qualities but too often their enjoyment is spoilt by traffic noise and unsightly, dangerous roads. Today’s announcement provides far too little to reduce the impacts of existing roads on National Parks."

The Transpennine feasibility study produced plans for widening almost every road through the Peak District and long-term plans for new roads and tunnels. Campaigners on the Transport North blog stressed the huge likely cost of these proposals and the revival of the Mottram-Tintwistle bypass in a post entitled 'Assault on the Pennines'.

Campaigner Tom Druitt - recently seen protesting against the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, rewrote the DfT press release on his blog with a more accurate depiction of the effects of these plans, calling them "The biggest waste of money in a generation".

And this piece from politics.co.uk by Adam Bienkov summarises better than anything we've seen today the case against new road-building as a way out of congestion: "All the evidence from previous road-widening schemes shows that congestion quickly returns to levels seen before billions of pounds were spent on them."

 

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