The Strategic Road Investment Inquiry is being carried out by government’s Transport Select Committee. The inquiry is looking into how well the current Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) is being managed, and what the Government’s priorities should be for future investment.
This is of course very relevant to us as the proposed Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) falls within the RIS2, and because of the estimated time line, if it goes ahead, would be part of RIS3 also. RIS3 is currently being considered and covers the time frame of 2025-30.
The Transport Select Committee held their first oral evidence hearing for this inquiry on 1st Feb 2023. Giving evidence was National Highways Chief Exec – Nick Harris, Dame Bernadette Kelly – Permanent Secretary at Department for Transport, and Emma Ward – Director General for Roads, Places and Environment Group at Department for Transport.
The transcript and facility to watch the hearing again can be found online here.
The proposed LTC was mentioned quite a bit in this hearing, you can read our update on that here. It included one member of the Transport Select Committee, Ben Bradshaw MP saying that given what they had been told it sounds as if the A303 Stonehenge and Lower Thames Crossing are just not going to happen, they’re impossible.
Further oral evidence hearings on 1st March 2023 – watch online.
Edmund King – President of the AA, Jonathan Walker – Head of Cities and Infrastructure Policy at Logistics UK, Sharon Kindleysides – Chief Executive Officer at Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, and Guy Dangerfield – Head of Transport Strategy at Transport Focus giving evidence in the oral hearing at 9.30am.
This first panel spoke about things like serious concerns about ‘smart’ motorways, and how many people see road maintenance (fixing potholes etc) as a priority over other things for RIS3.
Ralph Smyth – Transport Action Network, Lisa Hopkinson – Associate at Transport for Quality of Life, and Professor Glenn Lyons – Professor of Future Mobility at University of the West of England all giving evidence in the oral hearing at 10.30am.
It came as no surprise to us that the second panel gave great evidence on how new roads create more traffic and increase carbon emissions, that there needs to be more focus on real solutions, like better integrated sustainable travel options. We thank all three for the work they do and presenting such great evidence to the committee.
Further oral evidence hearings on 29th March 2023 – watch online.
The proposed LTC was mentioned a number of times in the second hearing on this day, largely to do with how progress is, or isn’t being made within the RIS, and what may or may not be progressed in future RIS.
It has been said the next RIS, RIS3 (2025-30), needs to focus on maintenance due to the aging road network, and budget is limited, so questions are being asked about whether any of the RIS3 pipeline road projects will still go ahead or not. There has been no definitive answer on this, but it is worth noting that the Tilbury Link Road, for example, is a RIS3 pipeline project, which of course adds another angle to the matter.
You can find the written evidence published on the committees inquiry pages too. There’s lots of interesting evidence to read through, including from TCAG, Gravesham Borough Council with a focus on the proposed LTC, and many other submissions too. We’ve also popped our submission, which has been accepted and published, below for your convenience!Evidence for Strategic Road Investment Inquiry
You can scroll through using the arrows
If you are having any issues with viewing our response above it can also be downloaded as a pdf file here.
In light of the Statement by the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP on 9th March which included details that the construction of the proposed LTC is being delayed by 2 years, if permission is granted, we have sent additional evidence to the Transport Select Committee and asked them to kindly consider accepting it as late evidence.Additional Evidence for Strategic Road Investment Inquiry
The inquiry is ongoing and we will be keeping an eye on the committee’s website and waiting to see what comes next, but ultimately the inquiry will result in a report by the committee, which we expect and hope will make very interesting reading. It was following a Transport Select Committee inquiry and report that ‘smart’ motorways were paused, so we are definitely watching this Strategic Road Investment inquiry with much interest!
Issues and questions coming up about LTC in government hearing – click here
NCE – MPs probe National Highways’ investment strategy following cost hikes and delays – click here