David Quarmby writes:
“Yesterday we published our main Study Report A Major Road Network for England. Our essential message is that Highways England’s Strategic Road Network – absolutely crucial though it is for the nation – does not comprise all the significant roads that matter in supporting England’s regional economies and enabling their growth.
We have identified a further 3,800 miles of local authority-controlled ‘A’ roads which, when put alongside the 4,200 mile SRN, constitute a more coherent network of major roads with better geographical coverage and connectivity. This is the 8,000 mile Major Road Network, carrying 43% of England’s traffic, on 4% of its roads.
What’s really interesting is that, since we started two years ago, there have been three government policy initiatives that help to make the MRN concept make sense and more workable.
- First, as part of the devolution agenda is the emergence of “sub-national transport bodies” (STBs). Our Major Road Network is the right ‘regional’ network for the STBs to use for their regional transport planning; Transport for the North, Midlands Connect and England’s Economic Heartland have all expressed great interest in it.
- Second, the government announced in July 2015 an intention to hypothecate Vehicle Excise Duty Receipts to a new National Roads Fund (NRF) from 2020. This would be used to fund HE’s Strategic Road Network. On certain assumptions, we believe there could be some headroom left in the NRF to contribute towards the local authority ‘A’ roads on our Major Road Network. That’s one way of addressing the funding challenge.
- Third, only last week, the Chancellor reiterated the government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure – particularly ensuring that economic growth is distributed more evenly across the regions. We believe that focussing on the Major Road Network – with its greater reach and connectivity than the SRN alone – can help in that objective.
We will be at next month’s Highways UK in force, which we anticipate being the report’s first major public discussion following its launch. It is the core theme of the opening session on Day 2 in which we will present our report, with discussion by regional stakeholders as well as the audience. And do join us later in the day for a lunchtime reception to mark the publication of the report. Hosted by David Hutchinson, chair of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, both Phil Carey and I, as co-authors, will be pleased to meet anyone interested to discuss the report and its implications!
A Major Road Network for England is a Rees Jeffreys Road Fund Study. The work has been led by David Quarmby, with Phil Carey as co-author. The study administrator was Frances Leong.
David Quarmby – Lead author A Major Road Network for England