National networks policy outlined by DfT

04/12/2013
Highways Reporters

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on a draft national policy statement for the national road and rail networks.

The consultation covers the draft national networks national policy statement (NN NPS). The NN NPS will set the overall policy against which the Secretary of State for Transport will make decisions on applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects on the national road and rail networks. It describes the need for development of these networks and Government policies for ensuring necessary development, within the context of Government's long-term goals for sustainable transport.

In the foreword of the document which can be viewed here, transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “Development of the national networks must be designed to minimise environmental and social impacts and also address existing problems. The NN NPS sets out the way in which we think the planning system should take account of environmental impacts, including the standards and mitigation measures that we expect to be required to safeguard the quality of life that we all value.

“This document sets out the background to the consultation and the aims of the NN NPS and also poses a number of questions, which we invite you to consider. I strongly encourage you to respond to this consultation to help inform this important document.”

The consultation period starts today (4 December 2013) and will run until 26 February 2014.

The Government’s policy across the key transport modes is as follows:

Roads – reduce congestion and unreliability by focusing on improving and enhancing the existing national road network, including through enhancements beyond the existing highway boundary. However, in some cases, to meet the demands on the national road network it will not be sufficient to simply expand capacity on the existing network and so some new road alignments and corresponding links will be needed.

Rail – improve the capacity, capability and reliability of the rail network at key locations for both passenger and freight movements to improve journey times, and to maintain or improve operational performance. Where this incremental approach is not sufficient, new or re-opened alignments to improve capacity, speed, connectivity and reliability should be considered. Where major new inter-urban alignments are required, high speed rail alignments are expected to offer the most effective way to provide a step change in inter-city capacity and connectivity, as well as helping to deliver long term sustainable economic growth.

Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges – support the transfer of freight from road to rail and facilitate sustainable rail freight growth. To this end, there is a need for an expanded network of SRFIs to serve regional, sub-regional and cross-regional markets providing good connectivity with both the road and rail network.
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