Campaigners call for more trees, less tarmac, in the Government’s forthcoming roads strategy

Thursday 31st August 2017

Hare on the roadCredit: Richard Steel/2020VISION

An alliance of 17 environmental groups is proposing a fresh approach to the Government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) focused on improving existing roads and motorways rather than building new ones.

Their joint report, Rising to the challenge: a shared green vision for RIS2, co-ordinated by Campaign for Better Transport, calls for funding to be prioritised for a ‘green retrofit’ of the strategic road network ahead of new road capacity, and for the Road Investment Strategy to be assessed against the UK carbon budget.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The Government’s Road Investment Strategy needs to focus on how existing roads can be improved, not on building new road capacity. Our joint report sets out a clear case for a greener RIS2. With a focus on green retrofit and better integration with the rest of the transport network, Highways England can reduce the impact of roads to benefit people and the environment alike.”

The report sets out three key principles for RIS2:

  • Fix it First, focusing on making improvements to the existing network, including green retrofit
  • An integrated strategy, including better links with local and non-motorised transport
  • Environmental leadership, prioritizing cutting carbon & air pollution, and protecting the landscape and biodiversity.

The report builds on the 2014 report Better not bigger, which led to the £900 million designated funds for environmental improvements in the first Road Investment Strategy. The new report calls for these funds to be retained and expanded to deliver a green retrofit of the network in the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2).

With a focus on green retrofit and better integration with the rest of the transport network, Highways England can reduce the impact of roads to benefit people and the environment alike

The report includes examples of best practice in the UK and around the world to outline many ways the existing road network could be improved, including:

  • Stronger protection for landscape and heritage from road schemes
  • Tree planting to improve flood protection and cut pollution
  • Green bridges to connect wildlife areas across motorways and trunk roads
  • The use of quieter road surfaces to reduce noise pollution
  • Rollout of electric vehicle charging points
  • Better provision for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and bus passengers
  • Priority for public transport at key junctions.

Rachel Hackett, Living Landscape Development Manager, The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“Our vision is for a network of wildlife-rich corridors delivered alongside the strategic road network, connected via natural green bridges, which reach into our towns and countryside. The green retrofit programme introduced in 2014, was welcome. But much more is needed to fix the deep-seated problems of past decisions. The next Road Investment Strategy presents a real opportunity for Government to make a much bolder investment in the environment and to demonstrate its genuine commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it”.

See below attachment to view "Rising to the challenge: A shared green vision for RIS2".

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