The government will reform the Highways Agency within this parliament, transport minister Stephen Hammond has pledged.
Transport under secretary and roads minister Hammond responded affirmatively to a question from NCE over whether the govenment could make the structural changes before the end of parliament in 2015. Hammond was speaking at a Westminster Energy Environment and Transport Forum on the Next Steps for UK Road Network Development.
The govenerment intends to transform the Agency into a publicly-owned company, with long term funding certainty underpinned by legislation. NCE understands this is expected to replicate in style the High Level Output Specification and Statement of Funds Available that creates the five year funding cycle in the rail sector.
A draft strategic review is expected to be published by the Department for Transport before parliament breaks for summer recess next Thursday. It is believed to tackle the full implication of Agency reform as well as proposals for five year spending cycles and even revisits the issues of tax ring-fencing and some form of road user charging.
It is thought that the government is reluctant to make this a Green Paper review, which would require primary legislation to enact the reforms via a time-consuming parliamentary process.
NCE understands that within the DfT there is a greater appetite for statutory legislation to underpin the long term funding strategy, overseen by some form of independent watchdog.