Building new roads makes traffic worse, say campaigners and don ‘t boost economy”

New roads in England not only fail to ease congestion and benefit local economies but worsen traffic, countryside campaigners warn.

Road-building also “obliterates” rural views and harms nature, the Campaign to Protect Rural England says.

Its study of 86 road schemes completed between 2002 and 2012 says the majority damaged the surrounding environment.

But Sir John Armitt, of the National Infrastructure Commission, said it was essential to increase road capacity.

The government will spend £1.2bn on building and maintaining roads in the next year, which it says will cut congestion and improve journey times while boosting businesses and jobs.

‘Depressing cycle’

Ralph Smyth, head of infrastructure at the CPRE, said road-building projects led to a “depressing, self-perpetuating cycle of more and more roads”.
Roads were not delivering the congestion relief promised, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “They improve it for the first year or so, then traffic rapidly increases.”

The CPRE’s research drew on official evaluations of 86 road schemes, which Highways England carries out for road projects costing more than £10m.

It said 69 of these road schemes had had an “adverse impact” on the landscape, including obliterating views and destroying ancient woodland and mature hedgerows.

And each road project it looked at, excepting one, saw traffic grow “significantly faster” than other regional roads.

In addition, the CPRE examined 25 road schemes which the government promised would boost the local economy.

The CPRE said that in 15 of these cases there was only “thin and circumstantial to non-existent” evidence that this had happened. …”