Cameron pledges £15bn 'roads revolution'

Prime Minister David Cameron is due to pledge that a future Conservative government would spend £15 billion on more than 100 road improvement projects in the 'biggest, boldest and most far reaching road improvement programme in four decades'.

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron is due to address business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference in London today and, according to a government statement issued ahead of his speech, he will "set out how the government will unveil the first ever long-term Roads Investment Strategy".

The statement said the proposals would increase the capacity of existing roads and take forward "major new strategic road schemes" and would see investment in over 100 projects on the Strategic Road Network by the end of the decade.

According to the statement, the Prime Minister is expected to say the scheme, due to be confirmed in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement next month, would be the "biggest, boldest and most far reaching road improvement programme in four decades".

"Hundreds of extra lane miles on our motorways and trunk roads. The green light given to major projects that have been stalled for years. Action to improve some of the most important arteries in our country – like the A303 and the A1 – which for too long have held parts of our country back. And all underpinned by over £15bn worth of investment.

"This will be nothing less than a roads revolution – one which will lead to quicker journey times, more jobs, and businesses boosted right across the country".

The government statement said the plans would see improvements to the:

  • A303 to the south west

  • A1 north of Newcastle

  • A1 Newcastle-Gateshead western bypass

  • Trans-Pennine roads in the north of England

  • A47 in the east of England

  • A27 on the south coast

The announcement has been criticised by transport charity the Campaign for Better Transport. Chris Todd, roads campaigner, said: "The road building schemes the government is so keen to talk up will trash protected areas and do nothing for the economy.

"It makes no sense to spend billions ploughing more lanes of traffic through our National Parks or desecrating irreplaceable historic sites like Stonehenge. These schemes will make people more dependent than ever on their cars, place greater costs on the NHS, while failing to tackle problems like the massive backlog of pot holes blighting local roads."

A spokesman for the Planning Officers Association said: "Whilst we welcome this initiative, what we really need is a comprehensive nationwide infrastructure strategy (a national plan if you will) rather that the piecemeal approach to infrastructure we seem to be getting. What is it about a national plan for England that politicians find so hard to swallow?"

In December last year, the government published a consultation on long-awaited draft national policy statement on the road and rail networks. Progress on the draft national policy statement has been stalled since 2009.

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