The Transport Select Committee have published a damning report following their inquiry in to Strategic Road Investment. The committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure of the Department for Transport and its associated public bodies.
The Strategic Road Investment Inquiry opened on 20th Dec 2022, and looked into how well the current Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) is being managed, and what the Government’s priorities should be for future investment.
The proposed Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) is currently one of the RIS2 (2020-25) enhancement projects. TCAG submitted written evidence to the inquiry in Feb 2023. We also previously reported on the inquiry about issues and questions that came up about the proposed LTC, and also coverage of the oral hearings.
What does the latest report say?
It is a damning report, and the Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Iain Stewart MP has said, “The Government needs to ensure the future Road Investment Strategies are deliverable and reconsider the viability of its expensive enhancements projects.”
Highlights in the report and associated statement include:
- The Government views the Strategic Road Network – 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads – as a key driver of economic growth, but its road investments could impact its ambitions to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
- The Strategic Road Network plays an important role in economic growth and productivity. However, the extent to which further investment in the Network would help to boost growth, in comparison to investment in other modes of transport and connectivity, is contested.
- The portfolios for RIS 3, RIS 4 and beyond should prioritise investment in the maintenance, renewal and resilience of existing assets over brand new projects.
- Providing the level of day-to-day running and upkeep that meets the needs of SRN users will require revenue funding alongside capital investment in more costly renewal and repair projects. The Government must, therefore, make sufficient provision for both revenue and capital maintenance funds. This funding could be gained by cancelling complex, costly enhancement projects.
- The Department needs to ensure that future RIS portfolios which include such projects are deliverable; it is time for the Government to reconsider its portfolio of expensive, complex SRN enhancement projects.
A Government response to the inquiry report is due by 27th September 2023. Watch this space!
What TCAG are saying
We welcome the Transport Select Committees damning report, and agree that it is time to reconsider expensive complex enhancement projects, like the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. This latest report, alongside others like the recent one from the Climate Change Committee that called for an urgent review into road building in England just go to show that Government cannot keep pushing ahead with road building. Projects like the proposed £10bn Lower Thames Crossing are hugely destructive and harmful, not fit for purpose, and need to be scrapped now. We need and deserve better.
Transport Action Network (TAN) statement on the report – click here
NCE – Government must ‘reconsider portfolio of expensive, complex road enhancement projects’ (July 2023) – click here
Highways – MPs tell DfT to ‘reconsider the viability’ of mega road projects – click here