'These forecasts point to a substantial increase in road traffic and serious consequences in 20 years will be the result if we do not act now,' said Strang. 'Accurate traffic forecasts are an essential tool in the discussion surrounding transport policy and will be used to inform next year's White Paper. Sound forecasts allow assessment of the impact of traffic growth, especially in terms of the location of congestion and pollution. Well-informed policies can then be developed to curb the worst effects.'
The report predicted road traffic would increase by 38% by 2016, increasing average journey times and reducing the amount of road space per vehicle. In the worst case scenario, traffic will increase by 84% by 2031 with average journey times doubling on urban motorways. The picture isn't as bleak as that painted by the last NRTF in 1989 - which overestimated the growth in gross domestic product and this did not take account of the constraining effect of the roads network approaching capacity.
Friends of the Earth immediately called on the Government to act, but didn't specify exactly which measures were needed, while motoring organisations said the forecasts highlighted the ineffectuality of fuel duty rises dressed up as 'green taxes'.