Anti-roads campaigners and green groups have joined forces with former transport minister Stephen Norris to attempt to quash any revival of UK road building.
Former transport minister Stephen Norris and anti-road campaigner Rebecca Lush Blum have put their name to Going backwards: the new roads programme, a research report by the Campaign for Better Transport that outlines plans of central and local governments costing over £30bn to build the equivalent of 1,244km of new roads across England and Wales.
The report has been published ahead of a CBT-organised conference this weekend designed to mobilise local anti-roads groups.
The report is based on an examination of national and local infrastructure development plans. It identifies 191 major road building projects including 76 new bypasses, 48 link roads and 9 new bridges and tunnels.The report highlights the environmental impact and political risks of proposing major developments in the countryside.
Norris, a transport minister in the last Conservative government, said he saw little point in attempting a return to road building policies of the 1990s.
“As transport minister I saw first-hand the difficulty in implementing a programme of major road building,” he said. “Experience tells us that it won’t solve the problems country faces. Now is the time for brave and creative decision-making, not a return to road building policies that were tried and failed in the 1990s.”
“Road building is slow, expensive, and unpopular.” added Lush Blum. “The politicians and business leaders promoting these roads have forgotten the lessons of the past. New roads are certain to be met by grassroots opposition from communities up and down the country.”
The CBT report claims the cumulative impact of planned roads on the natural and historic environment would be significant. It says road building proposals would affect four National Parks, seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 39 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three National Nature Reserves, 54 Ancient Woods and 234 Local Wildlife Sites.
“These plans pay no regard to places protected for their natural beauty, for conservation or for their historic importance,” said CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph. “They ride roughshod over the green belt, and encourage sprawling development which undermines the economic vibrancy of our existing towns and cities.”
Among the roads are 42 schemes which revive plans originally proposed in the 1990s. During this period road building resulted in direct action campaigns including Twyford Down, Newbury and Fairmile.