A new publication that suggests road building projects should be funded through road pricing schemes has met a mixed response from transport pressure groups.
While Friends of the Earth described the report as ‘environmental madness’, the influential RAC Foundation welcomed it, saying it contained ‘compelling evidence’ of a need for more roads.
The report, produced by Policy Exchange (Fleet News, January 17), aims to influence the Government’s future transport policy.
One of its authors, Policy Exchange chief economist, Dr Oliver Hartwich, said: “Britain’s transport infrastructure is, quite simply, not fit for purpose and unable to meet the needs of a modern country.”
The report recommends that upgrades to the transport infrastructure are needed now and once users have begun to experience the benefits, road charging should be introduced to cover the costs.
The RAC Foundation, which came out with a similar report last year, welcomed the Policy Exchange’s paper.
“This new evidence reinforces the RAC Foundation’s view that investment in new road capacity is essential if the UK is to avoid gridlock,” said Sheila Rainger, acting director of the RAC Foundation.
However, Rebecca Lush Blum, roads and climate campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Any money raised from road pricing must be invested in improving public transport for the benefit of everyone, the economy and the environment. Building more roads will simply lead to more traffic and more congestion.”
This reaction was echoed by Friends of the Earth, whose transport campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said: “Expanding Britain’s road network would be environmental madness.
“More road capacity will mean more traffic and more pollution. Road pricing could be part of the answer but the revenue must be used to get people out of their cars and on to less polluting alternatives instead.”