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Transport planners urge government review of road spending

Words: Huw Morris
Road / Shutterstock_1078663826

Transport planners are calling on the government to review funding for new road projects and consider suspending them to meet net-zero targets.

The Transport Planning Society (TPS) is urging ministers to review the current Road Investment Strategy and to assess whether new high-carbon road building should be suspended. The move is in response to the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which seeks all modes to be net-zero by 2050, and ahead of next month’s COP26 conference.

The TPS says future budgets must tackle the imbalance between roads and sustainable forms of transport, with more active travel funding committed each year.

Economic levers should also be reviewed to not only achieve fiscal outcomes, but support travel behaviour change, with the government considering a road pricing scheme to immediately cut carbon from road travel “that is still mainly dependent on the internal combustion engine”. 

Investment in infrastructure must be supported by behaviour change campaigns that encourage a modal shift in response, the TPS said. These campaigns must be sustained, not on/off activities linked to the success or otherwise of funding bids, and the society stresses how important it is to move to sustainable forms of transport in the immediate future.

The TPS also calls for a connected approach to spatial and transport planning for regional and local authorities outside London. 

“There is a disconnect in the policy document between the proposed interventions and the net-zero target that we need to achieve,” said TPS policy director Tom van Vuren. “Apart from immediate action to reduce emissions now, I want to see a more in-depth analysis of whether all initiatives combined will get us anywhere near that target, and what else might be needed to do so.”

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