Campaigners criticize road upgrade plans as “fiddling while the planet burns.”
As more people begin to work from home following the coronavirus lockdowns, driving patterns are “unlikely to be totally reversed.”
Because of the shift in habits, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the planning policy for England’s road network will be reassessed. Since the onset of the epidemic, trends in working from home and online buying have “dramatically increased,” albeit the shift had been slow.
The planning policy was likewise drafted prior to the establishment of key environmental goals.
Shapps reflected on changing trends across the country while speaking to MPs.
“In the previous 18 months, substantial changes have occurred in commuting, shopping, and business travel, which made up 30% of all road journeys by distance before the pandemic, and a much greater proportion at the times and places of greatest pressure,” he said.
“Trends in homeworking, online shopping, and videoconferencing, which had all reduced trip rates prior to the epidemic, have drastically grown, and appear unlikely to be totally reversed.”
Welwyn Hatfield’s Conservative MP also mentioned a “hopefully temporary” transition away from public transportation.
During the epidemic, there was also a rise in delivery traffic.
He emphasized the importance of continuing to spend heavily in roads, noting that more than half of the £27 billion plan for England’s strategic roads is for enhancements to the existing network, as well as to improve safety and the environment.
More electric and driverless vehicles are expected to be on the roads by the time the modifications are completed.
The evaluation of the national policy statement (NPS) on national networks will begin in late 2018 and be completed by spring 2023.
“Reviewing the NPS will ensure that it stays fit for purpose in supporting the Government’s pledges for suitable development of infrastructure for road, rail, and critical rail freight interchanges,” Shapps said in the statement.
However, there have been some criticisms of the proposal, with some campaigners claiming that planners can utilize existing standards until the study is completed.
Because they are still following the previous principles, they are free to flout any new environmental requirements that have been imposed since then.
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