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M25 Junction 10 Scheme Has ‘No Material Impact’ On Climate Change

Published on: 29 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 28 Aug, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Highways England (HE) have published a study showing the M25 Junction 10 scheme construction contributes just 0.0038% of the UK carbon budget for 2022, concluding it will have “no material impact on the ability of government to meet its carbon reduction commitments”.

Junction 10 on the M25 is in an environmentally sensitive area.

The £250 million M25 Junction 10 scheme is one of the around 100 projects for the £27 billion Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), mainly spent on improvements to the existing strategic road network.

The report does not state what the cumulative impact of RIS2 programme would have on the carbon budget. Scaling up in proportion to the overall budget would suggest around 0.4% of the carbon budget would be used by the RIS2 road improvements.

A recent court challenge by the Transport Action Network (TAN), saying RIS2 would breach the UK’s legal commitments to tackle the climate crisis, was rejected.

The judge, Mr Justice Holgate said: “The government is taking a range of steps to tackle the need for urgency in addressing carbon production in the transport sector.  Whether they are enough is not a matter for the court.”

The controversial M25 J10 scheme, criticised by both RHS Wisley and campaigners against the Wisley Airfield housing scheme, has been delayed twice by the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps, raising questions whether the scheme would be eventually cancelled. (See also M25 Junction 10 Revamp In Doubt As Secretary Shapps Delays Decision Again.)

In May 2021, HE announced: “a final decision [by the SoS] on whether we can continue with our proposals” would be made in November 2021 to enable “further consideration of environmental matters”.

In July 2021, the SoS requested the scheme to provide additional information on the scheme’s compliance with the sixth carbon budget as set out in the Carbon Budget Order 2021 and the climate impact of the scheme.

In a statement on August 25, GBC said they were “prioritising” the M25 Junction 10 improvement scheme and four other road projects in the borough to help “meet current housing targets in the adopted Local Plan”.

Cllr John Rigg

John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity), GBC lead for regeneration, said: “We are monitoring the situation and will consider the implications for the Wisley Airfield development as part of our regular monitoring of house building in the borough to be undertaken later this year. 

“This development makes an important contribution to the housing delivery targets for the borough and currently if not forthcoming they will have to be delivered elsewhere.”

We have asked the Angela Richardson, MP for Guildford, Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, GGG, Conservatives and Labour groups on GBC and the Wisley Action Group for a comment.

Hugh Coakley is a member of Extinction Rebellion

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Responses to M25 Junction 10 Scheme Has ‘No Material Impact’ On Climate Change

  1. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    August 29, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Highway England, by looking exclusively at carbon emissions from construction, have drawn a conclusion that the M25 Junction 10 upgrade will have “no material impact on the ability of government to meet its carbon reduction commitments”. This argument is fundamentally flawed since it doesn’t reflect the extra carbon emissions that will result from the use of the upgraded network.

    The upgrade is part of the government’s RIS2 programme which invests £25bn on road infrastructure. The government’s justification for the investment, presented in a report to Parliament, is based on current road use. From this, you can draw the conclusion that the government is making no attempt to shift users away from the road and onto cleaner alternatives of public transport and rail freight.

    RIS2 (and M25 junction 10) must therefore be considered as a government commitment to maintaining current road demand. When evaluating the CO2 emissions of RIS2, one must therefore consider emissions from vehicles that otherwise could have been shifted to cleaner transport. When you do that, the upgrade of M25 Junction 10, as part of the wider RIS2 programme, certainly has a significant impact on the government’s ability to tackle climate change.

    Mark Bray-Parry in the representative of the Guildford Green Party

    • Stephen Collins Reply

      August 29, 2021 at 11:15 pm

      Assuming future traffic will still be carbon based and not electric.

      • Mark Bray-Parry Reply

        August 30, 2021 at 7:49 am

        Road transport won’t be carbon free and certainly not environmentally friendly, in the near future. Resources needed for battery technology for electric vehicles have a significant environmental impact and HGVs will likely be going down the hydrogen fuel cell route which will almost certainly use blue hydrogen, ie hydrogen made from gas, so will continue to have a significant carbon footprint.

        The best and most rapid way to decarbonise transport is through modal shift: passengers to public transport or active travel and freight to rail.

        Mark Bray-Parry is a spokesperson for The Green Party

      • Harry Eve Reply

        August 30, 2021 at 9:16 am

        This argument fails to acknowledge the highly significant Co2e lifetime costs of constructing any vehicle, ie the emission costs of sourcing the materials, constructing the vehicles, distributing them, maintaining them and disposing of them – known as “embedded cost”.

        In the M25/J10 evidence this cost was ignored for the construction vehicles and additional traffic generated due to the factors that Highways England are obliged to use.

        That was over a year ago and I do not know whether the approach has changed but, if not, the approach to the carbon budget is inadequate to say the least. Also, unless the definition has changed recently, “Net Zero” only means a return to 1990 levels of Co2e emissions. Terms like “Net Zero” are misleading – something we are used to in the jargon around planning (eg “affordable” to deflect attention away from addressing social housing needs).

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    August 29, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    The ‘cleaner transport’ still needs road space. 20% increase in road journeys equated with the additional population in the South East. The equation from either side is “smoke and mirrors”.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    September 1, 2021 at 9:28 am

    People will still want and need personal transport in the form of motor cars, be they electric or otherwise powered when we move away from fossil fuels and I doubt the number of those vehicles will reduce. Therefore we still need to maintain and improve our road infrastructure to reduce congestion and improve the quality of journeys.

    Public transport, be it train, coach or bus may well be suitable for local journeys with light loads, but is not suitable for the bulk of journeys.

    “Modal shift” is a complete fantasy, unless we could go back to the days of a small shop on every street corner, so that folk didn’t have to walk or cycle more than a few hundred yards daily to obtain their provisions.

    Likewise, unless we revert to the situation, as in the early part of the 20th century and before, where family members tended to live and work close to each other in cities, towns and villages, we will still need flexible and comfortable means of travel to visit family and get to work. That means of travel is a private car, or perhaps a motorcycle.

    Any political party or organisation that tries to take that independent means of personal mobility away from the populace, will either never be elected to power, or if in power, will see a revolt the like of which has never been seen.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      September 2, 2021 at 6:27 pm

      I totally agree with David Middleton’s observation. The road network has to be improved for traffic to flow smoothly and create safer and friendly space for pedestrian and cyclists.

      Solutions are there but the question is whether the councils would admit that “modal shift” is just a fluffy idea and an excuse for not doing what really needs to be done and then work harder to secure funding for these.

      • Martin Elliott Reply

        September 5, 2021 at 4:54 pm

        One trouble is that a sensible initial proposal, in the realm of Local Authorities, gets twisted and distorted.
        “Modal Shift”, the idea of renewable transport, to reduce pollution, traffic and noise, is fairly reasonable, as first outlined nearly a decade ago. The Transport Plan for Guildford saw Modal Shift as a way to alleviate traffic pressure on Guildford town centre.

        Now, those pushing a the dogma see it as applying not just the town centre, but also wider to all the town wards, or even the whole rural area of Guildford borough. As Dave Middleton says, that becomes a nonsense for most people’s transport requirement.

        The same applies to another “state sponsored” local parking and transport. Again proposed and implemented is the method of Park & Ride, ie drive to a cheap car park at the edge of town and take a dedicated bus to the centre.

        It certainly seems logical, though perhaps not for those living outside the Guildford Town Centre who have to drive away from town to the P&R. However, in 10 years of operations, why does the Park & Ride scheme still require a £500,000 subsidy to cover the costs?

        Additionally, the largest contributor to GBC budget is not Council Tax, or income from the council’s property portfolio; instead, it is the on/off street parking fees and fines. So if the distorted removal of all powered travel and necessary parking, how is that proportion of GBC’s income to be replaced?

        • Bibhas Neogi Reply

          September 7, 2021 at 9:15 am

          I used the term ‘fluffy’ to illustrate ‘modal shift’ idea that GBC (of a previous administration) was wrongly using to address traffic issues in Guildford.

          In theory, walking, cycling and taking buses instead of using cars could reduce traffic but in practice the area around a town centre is pretty much limited to a couple of miles at best if people choose to shift their mode of travel.

          “Modal Shift”, the idea of renewable transport, to reduce pollution, traffic and noise as mentioned by Martin Elliot are of course highly desirable but such measures do not alter the need to improve the capacity of road network within Guildford Borough or its surrounding areas.

          Bus and train fares are often expensive when compared with using a car when one is already paying for it through taxes and insurance.

          In my undergraduate Civil Engineering course we were taught that trains were the most efficient means of transport since only a guard and a couple of engine drivers carried hundreds of passengers. But sadly the UK train service has become more expensive than driving a car especially when carrying a few passengers or family members.

          The answer to making public transport more attractive is to heavily subsidise them out of taxes. The UK spends a quarter of Germany’s or a third of France’s subsidy to train services. Please see

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