New legal challenge against the Government’s road policy

The latest update on this topic can now be found at


Transport Action Network (TAN) have launched a new legal challenge against the Government’s road policy.  The official title for the policy is  the ‘National Policy Statement for National Networks‘ (NPS NN) and it sets out

  • need for development of road, rail and strategic rail freight interchange projects on the national networks
  • the policy against which decisions on major road and rail projects will be made

The current policy was set out in 2014, and since then there have been five significant changes that should mean the policy is updated. For instance, since the policy was published back in 2014 the Government has introduced legally binding targets to reach a “net zero carbon” economy by 2050. Another is that there is now a greater understanding of the impact on air quality from cars, including electric cars because of their tyre and brake wear.

For the proposed Lower Thames Crossing alone we know that the carbon emissions are predicted to be over 5m tonnes, and that the whole route would fail against World Health Organization (WHO) standards for PM2.5 (the tiny particles from things like tyre and brake wear).

Whilst other Government departments have updated their policies, the Department for Transport (DfT) has refused.  TAN first asked the DfT  to review its road building policy in March 2020 but they were unable to bring a legal challenge until the DfT had actually taken a decision. DfT only told TAN it had refused a review in November, nearly two weeks after ministers had made up their mind. Because a six week time limit applied, this left TAN very little time to act.

It’s because of current roads policy that bodies like Highways England feel confident proposing such damaging road schemes in the first place.  We all know how damaging the proposed LTC would be, so we are grateful for, and support this legal challenge from our friends at Transport Action Network.


More about the legal challenge

As we shared earlier in the year TAN already have one legal challenge against the Government’s roads programme (Road Investment Strategy 2) which was announced in March 2020 without any assessment of environmental impacts. That case is about the decision to approve and fund that roads programme.

This new challenge is focussed on challenging the rules in the National Policy Statement that decide what’s allowed to be built. The two are connected but they are quite different legally and that’s why TAN have had to bring a separate challenge.

TAN are using the same legal team as for the first case, helping them keep the costs down. They now need to raise around £30,000, although this might rise if they have to appeal. This is to cover lawyers’ costs, court fees and the risk of having to pay some of the DfT’s costs if they lose.

Funds will be used to cover the wider costs for this case or any potential appeal, and to support TAN’s roads campaigning including helping other road campaigns in the courts and planning system.

TAN have set up a new CrowdJustice page for the latest legal challenge for donations to be made.  Whilst the funds are of course much needed to cover the legal costs of the challenge, we understand that not everyone will be able to make a donation, but please do share details of the challenge to help get word out there.  You never know, someone else (who is in a position to donate) may only find out about it through you sharing the info!  Together we are stronger!


Please donate to the legal challenge funds here if you can



Please donate to the legal challenge funds if you

Financial TimesCampaigners launch legal challenge against UK road-building plan

National Policy Statement for National Networks (read the policy) –