Building new road projects that cut traffic congestion, speed up journey times and increase economic growth can happen at the same time as tackling climate change, according to new research by pro-growth campaign group Britain Remade.
The research, which looked at the impact of the government’s main scheme for building and upgrading Britain’s motorways and major roads, dispels the myth from extremist eco-groups that the easiest way to cut carbon emissions is to stop building crucial new road infrastructure.
It finds that CO2 emissions from road transport increased by just 0.1% from the 370 miles of road built through the Department for Transport’s Road Investment Strategy 1 between 2015 and 2020. This includes emissions from both building and maintaining the roads and the extra journeys that the new roads encourage.
The new analysis instead finds that carbon emissions from motorists are expected to plummet by 64% by 2050, compared to 2020 levels, as motorists make the switch from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles. This is despite an expected 18% increase in total miles driven during the same time period.
But this will only happen if the Government continues to invest in upgrading Britain’s roads and makes sure the charging infrastructure required to help people make the switch to EVs is in place.
This news will come as a major blow to the Welsh Government, who this February announced that it would scrap all major road schemes on climate grounds, introducing an effective ban on any future road building in Wales. This research proves that this move will do little to cut carbon emissions, while stifling the Welsh economy.
Anti-car activists have recently used lawfare to delay vital road projects such as A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet between Milton Keynes and Cambridge. The lawsuit lodged by the Transport Action Network was thrown out entirely, but still led to a year-long delay to the popular project. Plans to upgrade the A47 in Norfolk are currently in jeopardy, as the High Court considers a legal challenge from campaigners on climate grounds.
Commenting Sam Richards, founder and campaign director of Britain Remade, said:
“Hard working people across the country are suffering because our congested roads make it far too hard to get quickly and easily from A to B.
“This research proves that we do not need to listen to hairshirt eco-fanatics like Just Stop Oil or Extinction Rebellion, and make motorists’ lives worse by halting much-needed new road projects like bypasses, road-dualling and river crossings.
“Instead, politicians of all parties should be working flat out to make it easier for drivers to switch to clean electric vehicles.
“The best way to do this is by upgrading Britain’s roads and lining them with a plentiful supply of charging stations.
“Yes, we need to be investing in new railways, new trams and new cycle paths, but we also need to invest in roads, which is the way most people get to work.
“To get more and more people to switch to EVs, powered by clean secure domestic energy, we need to get spades in the ground right now and get building our clean roads.”