Time for a roads reset, climate advisers say

28/06/2023
Chris Ames

The Government’s climate change advisers have thrown down a challenge to its road building plans, advising that it should review projects to assess their consistency with its environmental goals and ensure that they do not lock in unsustainable levels of traffic growth.

Launching its 2023 report to Parliament on the Government’s progress in reducing emissions, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said that although publication of the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan (CBDP) had provided new detail on the Government’s plans for net zero, ‘policy development continues to be too slow’ and its assessment of the CBDP has raised new concerns.

Outgoing CCC chair Lord Deben (pictured) said: ‘There is a worrying hesitancy by ministers to lead the country to the next stage of net zero commitments.

‘I urge the Government to regroup on Net Zero and commit to bolder delivery. This is a period when pace must be prioritised over perfection.’

The report says the revised National Policy Statement on National Networks, on which the Government is consulting, is welcome and that its emphasis on the importance of schemes taking ‘all reasonable steps’ to reduce lifetime emissions and taking into account the potential direct and indirect impacts of climate change is positive.

However, it adds that the draft statement needs to be clearer on the network’s role in reducing traffic growth rather than simply meeting the demand in the core scenario within updated National Road Traffic Projections (NRPT) and develop conditions, which can be included in the Roads Investment Strategy 3 process and beyond, that allow schemes to be taken forward ‘only if they meaningfully support cost-effective delivery of net zero and climate adaptation’.

It notes that although various road-building projects have recently been pushed back due to ‘fiscal headwinds’, the Government should launch a more strategic review, similar to the Welsh Roads Review, to assess whether these projects are consistent with its environmental goals.

Chris Todd, director of Transport Action Network welcome the recommendation. He said: ‘Having spent the last three years challenging the roads programme in the courts, we feel vindicated.

‘The Government’s position that it can continue with a huge roads programme while meeting climate targets has become completely untenable. It’s time for a roads reset. We need all investment to be taking us towards net zero, not making it harder to achieve by increasing traffic, concrete and congestion.’

The committee also made a number of recommendations relating to the take up of electric vehicles (EVs) and advised the Government that it must address ‘long-term fiscal issues’ relating to the decarbonisation of transport.

It noted that the chancellor has confirmed that ministers have no plans to consider road pricing, without which the ‘consequent absence of central leadership’ risks an inconsistent mix of local schemes and large fiscal shortfalls.

It advised that ministers should also consider the role of Fuel Duty, which remains frozen, providing ‘a Government subsidy for driving’ and depriving it of money that could have been used to support more sustainable modes.

The committee criticised the failure to provide local transport authorities with advice on how to plan for, calculate and deliver carbon reduction, which was promised in the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, has not yet been published.

The CCC said the Government must restore the funding settlement for active travel allocated at Spending Review 2021, which was cut in March to just £100m over the next two years.

It added that although Active Travel England’s initial funding allocations appear well thought through, with signs of progress, the Government should be looking to build upon these to give all local authorities long-term funding to develop and implement active travel but funding cuts will undermine its ability to do this.

The £9bn Lower Thames Crossing is currently planned for the third Road Investment Strategy

Assessing the current picture on emissions, the report states that demand changes following the pandemic have been the principal driver of a reduction of total car emissions of nearly 10 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) from 2019 to 2022, while the impact of changes in powertrain technology remains small but is growing as uptake of EVs increases.

The decrease in car travel resulted in a 6 MtCO2e reduction in total car emissions but that further action to maintain these trends and build upon them, for instance through effective modal shift, is necessary.

The report adds that despite a significant increase in sales of electric vehicles (EVs), the share of EVs in the overall car fleet remains small at around 2%, which has translated to a 1 MtCO2e reduction in total car emissions.

However, emissions from road freight (vans and HGVs) have increased by 4% since 2019, largely due to rapid growth in van usage, which has been evident since the early-2000s but accelerated during the pandemic.

The CCC warned that compared to its pathway for emissions, car demand is currently on track but with a significant risk that it will fall off track if pre-pandemic traffic growth trends resume and that without policy action to embed a reduction in the need to travel by car or grow the availability and attractiveness of alternative lower carbon modes, traffic is likely to increase beyond the pathway.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

ALSO INSIDE:

  • Traffex Review
  • A new solution to incursions
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Technician NRSWA Inspector

£27,507 - £29,418 per annum
Within the Highways Directorate we are looking for an enthusiastic, customer focused and experienced person to join the Service Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Traffic Engineering Senior Technician (CDC)

Grade 7, £25,969 - £28,665 (pay award pending)
We are passionate about Doncaster - it is a great place to live, do business and visit. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: City Of Doncaster Council

Highway Inspector x 2 posts

£24,294 - £35,745 (pay award pending) depending on qualifications and experience.
An opportunity has arisen for 2 Highway Inspectors to join the Highway Enforcement team. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Car Park Attendant

£22,074 to £23,256 per annum
We are seeking a motivated and organised individual to join our Car Park team Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Waste Services Operative

£24,294 – £25,979 per annum (SCP 7 TO 11)
The successful candidate will be joining the Council’s extremely successful Waste Services team. Accrington, Lancashire
Recruiter: Hyndburn Borough Council

Technical Assistant

GRADE 05 (£24,702 - £27,333)
This is a fantastic opportunity to work for a forward thinking and dynamic unitary authority Warrington, Cheshire
Recruiter: Warrington Borough Council

Senior Transport Planner

GRADE 08 £36,638 - £40,221 GRADE 07 (£32,076 - £35,745) GRADE 06 (£27,803 - £31,364)
This is a fantastic opportunity to work for a forward thinking and dynamic unitary authority. Warrington, Cheshire
Recruiter: Warrington Borough Council

Maintenance Engineer

Competitive
Reporting to the Maintenance Manager this is a great opportunity to be part of a successful and performing maintenance team, maintaining the Traffic Signals, across London. Carrying out both reactive and planned maintenance on traffic signals. England, London
Recruiter: Telent

Driver 2 - Street Cleansing

Grade D (5-6) £23,500 - £23,893 (£12.51 p/h) (Pay award pending)
Undertake cleansing activities as required such as litter, detritus, weed and fly tipping removal. Sefton (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recruiter: Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council

Mechanic (LCV/LGV)

£32,076 – £33,945
We are seeking a suitably qualified and experienced, LCV/LGV Mechanic, Accrington, Lancashire
Recruiter: Hyndburn Borough Council

Passenger Transport Infrastructure Development Officer

£28390 - £33401 per annum
Passenger Transport Infrastructure Development OfficerPermanent, Full TimeUp to £33,401 per annumLocation
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Senior Highways and Transport Planner

£38,234 - £40,778
We have a fantastic opportunity for a Transport Planning professional who wants to take the next step in their career Northamptonshire
Recruiter: West Northamptonshire Council

Engineer - Vehicle Restraint Systems

£36,720 - £41,180
Here at National Highways, we manage one of the world’s most advanced road networks. Bristol or Exeter
Recruiter: National Highways

Senior Transport Planner

£38,223 - £43,421 per annum
Our team are instrumental in the successful delivery of highways and transport services Walsall, West Midlands
Recruiter: Walsall Council

Street Pop Outreach Worker

£35,577 - £36,567
Safer Spaces are offering a fixed term contract to offer a recovery and intervention project Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Maintenance Engineer

Band F, SCP 26-31 (£34,834 - £39,186 per annum)
We have an exciting opportunity available within the Highways Service at Sandwell Council based at Oldbury. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Highway Inspector Manager

£42,403 - £46,464
You will be working closely with the Highway Inspections Operations Manager Leek, United Kingdom
Recruiter: Staffordshire County Council

Waste and Street Scene Locality Manager

£48,474 - £52,502
We are looking to recruit a Waste and Street Scene Locality Manager to Manage our Locality depot based in Harrogate. Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire Council

Parking Supervisor

£28,770 - £31,364
The role will involve supervising a team of Civil Enforcement Officers Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Recruiter: Harborough District Council

Fleet Compliance Assistant - WMF1183e

£29,777 - £30,296
This is an exciting and unique opportunity to assist in the delivery of a new Fleet Services Team for the Council. Cumbria
Recruiter: Westmorland and Furness Council

Highways Presents

 


Latest Video