Headlines: September 20th, 2007

As many as seven out of ten signs on roads in rural areas are unnecessary and could be removed, the Institute of Highway Engineers will be told today. They will see the initial findings of an audit carried out in Hampshire and will hear that the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the RAC Foundation are joining forces to call on highway authorities to conduct similar exercises.

Paul Miner, CPRE’s planning campaigner, will give details of the audit of the A32 trunk road and he will show delegates the value of alternatives to traditional signs and markings to tackle speeding in the countryside. One example is the ‘shared space’ at Shipbourne, in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which campaigners estimate could save up to 125 additional signs as well as a range of standardised road markings.

The CPRE wants ministers to follow the example of the Scottish Government, which has issued detailed policy guidance to Highways Authorities on how to deal with landscape issues road design and the fixing of signs. It also wants Government policy to require Highways Authorities to address clutter in the next round of Local Transport Plans, due in 2010.

Paul Miner will tell engineers meeting in Loughborough, “The Government wants local authorities to be “place-shapers”. The best place everyone can start is by looking at the appearance of our roads. Most of our rural roads are a mess of unnecessary and standardised signage that looks bland and encourages irresponsible motoring. By getting rid of this clutter, local councils, highway engineers and communities can make our countryside a safer and more attractive place to be.