Green MEP responds to Government’s Major Road Network consultation

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and a member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, has today submitted his response to the Government’s proposals for the creation of a Major Road Network (MRN).

As part of the Transport Investment Strategy, the Government committed to creating a Major Road Network and launched a consultation asking: how it should define the MRN; the role that local, regional and national bodies should play in the MRN investment programme and which schemes will be eligible for MRN funding.

Mr. Taylor criticised the premise of the ‘ill-defined’ MRN proposals and the lack of ‘sophisticated’ data used to support them.

In his submission, the senior Green MEP said:

“Promising a long-term funding stream for road building runs counter to how we need to be thinking about, and acting on transport in the 21st Century. Building more roads will not reduce congestion and it is wholly unacceptable for the Government to be promoting such a wholesale effort to entrench Britain’s ‘car as king’ mentality. Not only that, the report upon which these proposals are based clearly mandated a consideration of the environmental impacts of such a massive, outmoded infrastructure project. The Government, however, has ignored and removed it from the MRN proposals completely.”

In response to questions about the data used as a basis for the proposals, Mr. Taylor added:

“Looking at average annual daily flow isn’t sophisticated enough to truly understand the level of traffic on any given road or section of a road. It doesn’t take into account time of day peaks and troughs and, by averaging across the year, seasonal variations are also ignored. Moreover, information about the types of vehicles is missing. Such a flawed approach is not fit for purpose and could paint a wholly unrealistic image of demand.”

“It is astonishing that these shortcomings are mentioned in the consultation, but dismissed as not being ‘consistent with our wider objectives for the MRN’. Despite one of the 5 central policy objectives being reducing congestion. It just highlights this Government’s rejection of evidence-led policy-making. Rather than letting the evidence inform policy decisions, the Tories are letting policy decisions inform their use of evidence. Refusing to use congestion data to inform decisions about reducing congestion betrays a Government being blindly led by ideology alone.”

On the cost implications of the project, Mr. Taylor added:

“It is ludicrous that the Government intends to spend millions of pounds on perpetuating and promoting road usage when other sustainable modes of transport are more viable in the long term and in desperate need of funding.”

“The expectation that third-party contributions and local contributions be made is also unthinkable. Local authorities are more poorly resourced now than they have been, possibly ever. To suggest that they need to financially contribute to road building is a ridiculous proposal.”

Mr. Taylor concluded:

“This is a long-term strategy, yet there is no mention of the need to decarbonise the sector at all. This needs to be rectified. Economic considerations, growth, and prosperity are no longer sufficient reasons to act. This proposal falls short because it is blindly led by an outdated economic ideology. All decision making should consider economic, environmental and social implications in conjunction.”

“While better linkages between the national and the local level are positive, there is a fundamentally missed opportunity if transport policy is not also connected. Investing in decades more road building is a significant barrier to the necessary shift towards multi-modal journeys. There are so many ways to bring Britain closer to the sustainable transport future and we must adopt. I have seen so many examples from our European neighbours of the transport infrastructure investments we need to be making to build a sustainable mobility system fit for a 21st Century Britain.”