SUSTAINABLE EXPANSION of the motorway network was at the heart of a debate attended by ICE president Quentin Leiper last week.
During the debate Road Users' Alliance director Tim Green said building roads was more sustainable than not building them, as it relieved heavily polluting congestion and it also improved road safety.
He said that the UK had one of the lowest levels of car ownership and relative motorway density in Europe.
Despite the popularly held belief that building roads encourages traffic, Green said that in fact there was no evidence to suggest that failing to build roads discouraged it.
'In the last 10 years we haven't built any roads but the number of vehicles on the roads has increased by 25%.' Social Research Associates director Kris Beuret also backed the idea of expanding the network, although she did not necessarily support new road construction itself.
'We have to extend the capacity of the existing motorway network so it can accommodate the technology that will be installed in the future, ' she said.
'In 30 years we will have automated roads where all drivers are effectively passengers. This remote control of cars will also allow them to travel closer together and accommodate greater trafc [volumes].' But Transport 2000 roads and climate change campaigner Rebecca Lush argued that it was inappropriate to be thinking about accommodating higher traffic levels in the context of climate change, because transport accounts for 25% of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions.
All engineers' energies should be channelled into nding solutions that could cut the number of cars on the road. This would include improving public transport, she added.
Sustrans South East regional manager Simon Pratt said it was easy to achieve sizeable reductions in traf c just by educating people on the subject.
'A 10% reduction in trafc would be possible by each person cutting out just 37 car trips per year, per person. That is less than one car journey a week, ' he said.