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CPRE: "The Treasury’s Roads Policy: a disaster in the making"

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"Yesterday, I gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee on the Government’s Action for Roads command paper. In the spirit of relentless positivity that characterises CPRE, I managed to find a couple of things in the Government’s roads policy that we like – the emphasis on maintaining existing roads (as well as building new ones) and commitments to reduce noise and light pollution. But there is rather more to dislike.

"Action for Roads signals the return of a predict-and-provide approach to road building. For almost twenty years it has been accepted by the Government and almost everyone else that new roads create new demand and quickly fill up. This is not to say that there can never be a case for a new road or extra carriageways. But there is oodles of evidence that building new roads is generally not the best way to relieve congestion, and very little evidence that the state of our roads is holding back the economy.

"However, infrastructure is in. Managing demand is so 1990s. The Treasury wants to get stuff built, and the Treasury (surprise, surprise) is calling the shots. So without any attempt to question the evidence that has guided policy for 20 years, we are now going to get a huge road building programme, in the name of relieving congestion and stimulating growth."

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