Headlines: January 18th, 2010

A lobby group is raising major doubts about the benefits of building new roads. The Campaign for Better Transport says it has uncovered research by the Highways Agency, which shows the claimed benefits of new roads do not work out in practice.

In a report today the Campaign is calling for a moratorium on new road building until the Highways Agency can demonstrate value for money. The report says the findings cast major doubts on the value road schemes and coincide with warnings from the Department for Transport that regional authorities should expect big cuts in transport budgets.

The Campaign says the Government reports looked at what happened after road schemes had been built and found that overall traffic levels went up as a direct result of each new road; economic forecasts did not reflect the actual impact on local businesses; CO2 emissions and noise levels were higher than predicted; walking, cycling and public transport did not improve and two-thirds of the bypasses studied had moved congestion elsewhere.

Richard George, roads and climate campaigner for the Campaign for Better Transport, said the reports should set off alarm bells for taxpayers and for anyone thinking of building new roads. “In difficult economic times, taxpayers must know that their money is being well spent. Instead, they’re being fobbed off with half-baked calculations which are little better than guesswork,” he said.

Mr. George called for a moratorium on new road building until the Highways Agency could show taxpayers what they would get for their money. “Instead, let’s spend money on smaller scale, excellent value for money projects which can really help to tackle transport problems now,” he said.