Government provides funding to ensure England’s roads are ‘fit for the 21st century’

11.01 | 2 March 2020 | | 2 comments

While the Government has pledged nearly £100m to help councils carry out ‘essential’ repairs to their local road networks, its wider roads investment programme could face a legal challenge from environmentalists.

The £93.4m of funding, announced by roads minister Baroness Vere on 28 February, is being provided to projects which will cut congestion, improve road conditions and make journeys easier.

The funding will be split between 32 local authorities and forms part of a £6.6bn package to improve the condition of the local highway networks between 2015 and 2021.

Projects to benefit include £4m for urgent repairs to the New Elvet Bridge in Durham – along with £3.7m to help refurbish several steel bridges around Northumberland.

The Government has also announced a £900,000 investment to fund ‘cutting-edge’ research projects aimed at creating a better transport system – the first of which include ‘world-leading innovations’ to spot and repair potholes.

The new AI-powered app can detect potholes in real-time, using mobile phone sensors to measure when cyclists ride over or swerve to avoid them. It is hoped the app will help local authorities to quickly identify when potholes are forming and take quicker action to fill them.

Baroness Vere said: “There is nothing more frustrating than a journey delayed by poor road conditions, and this multi-million pound boost will help improve connectivity across the country.

“This investment will not only help local areas to target current pinch points on their roads, but will also harness our world-leading research and innovation capabilities to future proof the next generation of journeys.”

Government set for legal challenge?
Meanwhile, Government plans for a wider £28.8bn roads programme could be challenged in the courts for breaching the UK’s laws on climate change, according to BBC News.

It has been suggested the plans, due to be published next month, don’t take into account commitments on reducing emissions and are likely to face legal challenges from environmentalists.

At present, officials are supposed to weigh the benefits of a proposed road scheme – for example how much time drivers will save if it is built – against the drawbacks, including the potential for increased carbon emissions.

However, the current value-for-money assessment was created under guidelines last updated in April 2019, when the UK was planning to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.

But two months later the target was raised, committing the UK to cutting almost 100% of emissions by the same date.

A pressure group, Transport Action Network, says its investigations suggest some road schemes are going ahead even if they’re shown to increase emissions – while others don’t include any data on potential carbon emissions.

Becca Lush, spokeswoman for the Transport Action Network, told BBC News: “The whole system desperately needs reviewing. The assessments were done in a pre-climate crisis era. They don’t take into account the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions.”



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    Theresa, have you checked how much is spent every year on roads? You might be surprised. Cars are not ‘getting bigger’. We are choosing to buy bigger cars because we perceive them as safer. Sadly, for the pedestrian, larger cars are not safer. If you look at the statistics, the state of roads is not the cause of crashes, it’s driver behaviour…”failed to look, driving too fast for the conditions, etc”. As for the environmental comment, greener measures go hand in hand with reducing road danger. E.g. Implementing 20mph as the default speed in places where people and motor vehicles mix saves lives and reduces emissions, as would achieving a modal shift away from cars to active and sustainable travel.

    Adrian Berendt, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

    It’s about time we have funds placed into road infrastructure, the UKs roads are sadly not first world roads, the UK need wider roads, as well as a safe area to pull over, to prevent accidents! The narrow roads are problematic as the edges flood and are prone to breakage, forcing motorists to drive toward the center of the already too narrow road. As a motorist, we need 1) wider lanes, introduce a minimum width and an emergency pull over section.( lower cost to the NHS and police for accidents that occur as there is nowhwre to pull off) 2) road lights and as a minimum road maintenance of reflectors and white lines (solar powered lights) 3) proper road drainage….( provide off flows for farmers or irrigation of communal plants.) motorists should not have to be hitting road floods where simple planning can have this avoided.
    To the environmentalists… Come up with solutions to work around making roads safer, like I just did! right now it cannot stay the way it is, cars are bigger and faster… With the existing dark, cracked Mr bean roads, this will and can be the death of many of us.

    The roads in the UK need to meet a first world level and in my opinion it’s incredibly unsafe the way it is.

    Theresa Mcintyre, Swindon
    Agree (3) | Disagree (4)

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