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Grayling launches transport investment plan

Words: Laura Edgar
Congestion / iStock

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced a long-term strategy for government infrastructure spending in Britain, including money for a major new road network.

The new road network would see a share of the annual National Road Fund, with funds from Vehicle Exercise Duty (VED) given to local authorities in an attempt to improve or replace the most important A road under their management.

The government’s plan is to improve productivity and connectivity of towns and cities across the country. It should tackle bottlenecks and traffic jams for road users, drawing lorries and through-traffic through rural villages on main roads.

The scheme aims to help people get to work and school by better connecting towns and cities, to unlock land for new homes, and to improve business links.

Grayling said: “The transport investment strategy sets out a blueprint for how we can harness the power of transport investment to drive balanced economic growth, unlock new housing projects, and support the government’s modern industrial strategy.

“This government is taking the big transport decisions for Britain’s future like HS2 and Heathrow, while delivering the biggest investment in roads and rail for a generation.

“At the heart of our approach is a plan to make transport work for the people who use it and for the wider economy.”

The strategy includes plans for a new “rebalancing” measure, which will judge how investment programmes contribute to a more a balanced economy, according to the government. It will also support every part of Britain and prioritise investment that increases productivity or growth, supports new housing, improves reliability and tackles congestion.

It is expected to form part of the modern industrial strategy, announced in January this year.

Alan Pauling, UK transport market director at Ramboll, welcomed the announcement to use VED to fund highway improvements, stating that it is a “long overdue step forward”.

“Irrespective of whether and how much goes to either the strategic road network or the local authority, controlled roads will undoubtedly be the subject of much debate.

“More interesting to watch will be the competition that develops as responsible authorities seek to compete for that funding, which raises the prospect of a return to a cumbersome bidding process. This will also give those paying the VED a first time opportunity to have a say in how that money is spent and, importantly, to pass comment on whether it was worth it.”

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