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‘More Roads Lead to More Traffic’, Says Campaign Group

Published on: 21 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2017

New roads do not relieve traffic congestion or boost local economies but devastate the environment according to a study commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The study, which it is claimed is “the largest ever independent review of completed road schemes in England” finds that recent road schemes, rather than provide solutions, have encouraged millions of extra car journeys each year, resulting in greater congestion of local roads.

More than half of the road schemes analysed, it was found, harmed protected landscapes and designated environmental sites, including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ancient woodland and historic places. Overall, there was evidence that 80% of schemes built damaged the surrounding environment.

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The study also questions the benefits of the road building programme planned by Highways England set to triple spending to £3 billion a year by 2020.

The CPRE said: “Of roads promoted for their benefits to the local economy, just one in five demonstrated any evidence at all of economic benefit, and that was weak. More than half of the road schemes analysed harmed protected landscapes and designated environmental sites, including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ancient woodland and historic places.”

A Highways England spokeswoman told The Times that its road building programme would “ensure our roads continue to operate safely, efficiently and effectively”.

Cllr Paul Spooner the leader of Guildford Borough Council.

Reaction from local councillors was mixed. Council leader Paul Spooner (Con, South Ash South & Tongham), said: “Interesting to see the change of strategy from CPRE.

“Previously they were arguing that infrastructure was necessary to support development and when funding comes forward to support infrastructure it now makes things worse. Sadly this damages the credibility of this campaign group.

“But opposition councillors appeared to partly or completely agree with the CPRE study. Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) said: I think the building of the M25 and the constant need to widen it ever since the “completion” date shows what we all really know, the more road you build, the more cars will fill it. This has been proven around the world.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

“There is however a difference between extending road networks and improving connectivity through rationalising junctions, which is what is sorely needed around Guildford. The existing roads need to work effectively if we are ever to embrace driverless cars, a jam at an inadequate junction will still be a jam whether the car is driven by a person or not.

“The bottom line is that we need a vastly improved public transport system and until the government will back this, instead of new roads, we are never going to succeed.

“The Conservative government must invest nationally in public transport if we are to solve the traffic problems – and improve our air quality, surely equally important for many reasons.”

Cllr Susan Parker

Susan Parker (GGG, Send) said: “I welcome this sensible research from CPRE. It states clearly what many of us believe – road building does not ultimately resolve congestion.

“Building roads should not be seen as a panacea for our congested area. A few million pounds for minor adjustments to the A3 will certainly not allow the population to increase by around a quarter, as has been proposed under the previous draft Local Plan.

“It is about time that local and national politicians started to recognise that our environment matters and that people care about it.”

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Responses to ‘More Roads Lead to More Traffic’, Says Campaign Group

  1. Terry Duckmanton Reply

    March 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I agree with Caroline Reeves up to a point, but ‘rationalising junctions’, sounds like she wants to continue to allow motorists to rule the roost when it comes to travel. This view is strengthened by the suggestion that I might want to “embrace driverless cars”.

    I believe that personal transport does not necessarily have to be car shaped, with all its attendant infrastructure. Many journeys could be made on foot or by bicycle and longer journeys are far more comfortable on a train.

    Instead of embracing driverless cars perhaps we should be embracing carless drives.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 21, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    We must remember that infrastructure is not just the road system but also the need to build hospitals, schools and to provide the public services to support new builds.

    But even improving the infrastructure would not be a panacea. Consideration should be given to how much development can be allowed in what are already heavily congested areas.

    Such developments will no doubt worsen the situation not only of congestion but also that of pollution.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    March 21, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Cllr Spooner has the temerity to comment that CPRE’s remarks damage “the credibility of this campaign group”. At least CPRE offers fact based rational analysis.

    Let’s not forget that Guildford Borough Council issued the first draft Local Plan without having done a Habitats Regulation Assessment, a Heritage Assessment or a Transport Plan.

    Let’s also not forget that the New Town (the third largest in the borough after Guildford and Ash & Tongham) that has been promoted in the Surrey Advertiser will result in a net closure of roads, not a net increase. Ockham Lane will close together with Plough Lane and Old Lane will become a one way road.

    The credibility of Mr Spooner’s own “campaign group” – the Conservative Party in Guildford – has never been lower. Like Donald Trump he prefers to make policy in his bullying style, by Tweet, rather than by serious analysis.

  4. Brian Holt Reply

    March 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Everyone says keep the cars out of the town centre and use public transport but there is already a shortage of bus drivers all over the country, it’s a job no one wants, so who is going to drive these extra buses? Guildford bus companies are always short of drivers.

    It’s the early starts, late nights, working weekends, then dealing with traffic congestion and moaning passengers that always blame the drivers for the bus running late that puts potential drivers off.

    It does not help when working for a bus company whose buses keep breaking down and are dirty.

  5. John Lomas Reply

    March 21, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Are those advocating the modal shift to public transport also aware of the business dictum that: “If demand exceeds or even nears capacity then prices should increase”?

  6. John Robson Reply

    March 22, 2017 at 10:12 am

    In light of recent events, the fact that the Conservatives are offering lectures on “credibility” is quite comical. It is obviously a diversionary tactic.

    Recent manifesto busting pledges that have fallen by the wayside, include:

    “We won’t increase NICS” and “We will protect your greenbelt”.

    Throw in the huge increase in council tax, the Tories are now the party of taxation and U-turns.

    I see no Conservative “credibility” in the Conservatives’ management of the draft Local Plan. Maybe we’ll have to see it approved before we get the, now customary, about turn?

    Perhaps only then will the Local Plan meet needs of local people, not GBC’s preferred developer “stakeholders”.

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