Grant Shapps said it was right to reconsider the road network expansion strategy – arguing that the increase in working from home and online shopping was unlikely to be “completely reversed” even if the economy is recovering from blockages.
“Over the past eighteen months, fundamental changes have taken place in commuting, shopping and business travel,” the minister said in a written statement on Thursday.
Mr Shapps added: ‘Trends already underway in working from home, online shopping and video conferencing, which had all reduced travel rates even before the pandemic, have increased dramatically and appear unlikely to reverse. completely. “
The government will now review its National Policy Statement (NPS) for major highway projects “in light” of these commuting and shopping trends, Shapps said.
The move was greeted with caution by climate activists who had called for the government’s “outdated” road strategy to be updated to reflect commitments to tackle climate change.
Transport Action Network had accused the Department of Transport (DfT) of ignoring the Paris Agreement, which commits the UK to taking action to limit global warming to well below 2C.
But the group is angry that the policy of major road projects is not suspended during the overhaul announced by Mr Shapps. The transport secretary said the review would be completed “no later than spring 2023”.
Mr. Todd added, “For the next two years, the existing policy… will remain in effect. It is simply unacceptable to refuse to suspend this.
“We need a moratorium on all road construction until such a review is completed. Quite simply, we need the Department of Transport to stop making it worse. “
Despite the announced review, the government has not pledged to cut £ 27 billion for road construction and renewal as part of its Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), set in 2020 .
Transport Action Network recently launched a lawsuit against the initiation of RIS2 spending on climate grounds. After a High Court hearing in June, the judgment is expected in a few weeks.
The independent has contacted DfT for comment.