Find out more about Transport Action Network‘s legal challenges against the UK Government’s £27bn road building program, which includes the proposed Lower Thames Crossing; and also their challenge on the A428 Blackcat project .
Who are Transport Action Network (TAN)?
Although a relatively new organisation TAN has over 50 years’ experience of environmental campaigning. Their work includes helping and supporting those opposing damaging road schemes, such as our fight against the LTC. We fully support their legal challenges and work.
TAN’s legal challenges?
Two different legal challenges, both very relevant to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.
The RIS2 legal challenge
This first challenge was in regard to the UK Government’s approval of it’s £27 billion road building programme (also known as the Road Investment Strategy 2 – RIS2), including the proposed LTC, on climate grounds.
This case was heard at the High Court on June 29th and 30th 2021. The judgement was issued on Mon 26th July 2021 – click here to read our update. In Feb 2022 TANs request to appeal was refused by the Court of Appeal. But is it the end of the road? Read more.
There are also new legal challenges coming forward from Good Law Project, Friends of the Earth, and Client Earth all to do with the governments carbon strategy.
Through bringing this case TAN have shone a bright light into the murky depths of the Department for Transport. Increasing amounts of road projects are being delayed. And now TAN are asking ministers to review RIS2 as it is failing on what is is licensed to deliver – read more here.
National Policy Statement legal challenge
Moving on to the second challenge, which is in relation to the UK Government’s refusal to review the national policy that governs planning for new roads. The policy is officially known as the National Policy Statement for National Networks (NPS NN), and dates back to 2014. It doesn’t allow decision makers to seriously consider climate change. In addition, it is also now outdated regarding air pollution, natural capital (biodiversity) and design.
For instance, the Government have agreed to a legally binding commitment to Net Zero by 2050 since this policy was published. However, the policy has not been reviewed and updated to reflect this legally binding commitment.
14th July 2021 – It was announced in the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan that they now intend to review the road policy. TAN have issued the following update – click here.
22nd July 2021 – It has been announced that the Government will not be suspending the policy whilst it is reviewed which will not be completed before Spring 2023. This means that road projects, like LTC, can still be pushed through against the outdated policy whilst it is being reviewed. Transport Action Network are now considering further legal action.
11th November 2021 – Transport Action Network have now filed a fresh claim for judicial review of Grant Shapps’ refusal to suspend the National Policy Statement for National Networks (NPSNN) whilst it is being reviewed for being out of date on climate change policy. The NPSNN is the national policy framework that the LTC will be judged against. TAN’s case against the DfT is here, and the DfT’s defence is here.
24th February 2022 – TAN at been scheduled for a half hour hearing at the High Court to find out whether they will be granted permission to have this challenge heard to get the roads policy suspended whilst it is reviewed. The hearing ended up lasting 2 hours with an excellent and very engaged Judge. The Judge has now reserved his decision, and TAN will hear shortly whether they have permission to proceed with their legal challenge of Grant Shapps’ refusal to suspend the outdated roads planning policy (NPS) whilst it being reviewed (as it’s outdated on climate change). We will keep everyone updated as more info becomes available.
Update 14th March 2022 – Unfortunately TAN have been advised that they will not be granted permission to progress the legal challenge in regard to suspension of the roads policy whilst it is reviewed. We find it unbelievable that the government can continue to allow road projects to be pushed through examination using a policy that is not compliant with UK law, until the review has been completed and the policy updated. Whilst obviously this is not the outcome that any of us hoped for and it makes no sense at all that the policy is not suspended whilst reviewed, we would like to thank the amazing TAN team for all their hard work on the legal challenges and everything they do to help and support groups like ours.
Relevance to TCAG and our fight against the proposed LTC
Both legal challenges are relevant to our fight against LTC, because LTC is part of RIS2, and the National Policy Statement is used as part of the decision making process for it.
The Carbon Emissions for the LTC are over 5m tonnes, which is by no means in keeping with the legal binding commitment of Carbon Net Zero.
A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet
The third TAN legal challenge was against this recently approved road project. Despite having similar challenges to other legal challenges that have been made and heard in court, sadly TAN were not granted permission for a hearing. This was a very strange decision considering the similarities to the other challenges on the A47BNB/Norfolk and the A57 Link Roads.
Thanks to Transport Action Network for their hard work in regard to these legal challenges, and for their support in our fight against LTC. Together we are stronger!
Transport Action Network’s own website – click here to read more on their site about the legal challenges
TAN press release (11 Nov 2021) – https://transportactionnetwork.org.uk/campaign/news-ministers-undermine-own-pledge/
The Times (Nov 2021) – Campaigners accuse ministers of ‘oiling the way for massive road building’
New Civil Engineer (Jun 2021) – Legality of £27bn roads building programme in question as court battle begins
Thurrock Nub News (Jun 2021) – Legal challenge could bring a halt to government plans for Lower Thames Crossing
The Guardian – £27bn roads plan in doubt after Shapps overrode official advice (Feb 2021)
Financial Times – Campaigners launch legal challenge against UK road-building plan
National Policy Statement for National Networks (read the policy)