EDDINGTON STUDY AND ROADBUILDING
On 1 Dec 2006 the Eddington
studyon transport was published. Sir Rod Eddington (ex British Airways
chief) was commissioned in 2005 by Gordon Brown and ex-Transport Minister
Alistair Darling to examine the long-term links between transport and the
The implications for those campaigning for less roadbuilding and more traffic reduction are great. This report will shape future transport policy for many years. The media spin on the report was that Eddington was recommending a national road pricing scheme, and not recommending a major roadbuilding programme. This is unfortunately only partially true.
What Eddington actually said was that the current roads programme is justified in the meantime (up to 2015), in the absence of road pricing. He also strongly said that without road pricing there was an economic case for roadbuilding even when the environmental impacts are costed, and specifically recommended another 2,900 - 3,500 lane kilometres of extra roadbuilding between 2015 and 2025. Only when road pricing is brought in, might the need for roadbuilding fall to around 500 - 850 lane kilometres (an 80 per cent reduction). However the report was very helpful in some respects as it also strongly supports and recognises the economic benefits of cycling and walking schemes.
THE BAD STUFF
"In the absence of national road pricing, evidence of real schemes from the Highways Agency and strategic analysis using the National Transport Model (NTM) both indicate a very strong case for targeted additional road infrastructure in the UK."
"Even after accounting for environmental effects, there appears to be a good case for adding strategic road infrastructure over and above the schemes in the TPI (Highways Agency roads programme). Strategic analysis that uses best available evidence to estimate the benefits and costs suggests an economic case for additional capacity of between 2,900 and 3,350 additional lane kilometres on the strategic road network between 2015 and 2025 (in addition to investment assumed under the baseline scenario up to 2015)"
"Carbon emissions, air quality impacts and noise are
likely to be worse as these are driven by the volume and speed of traffic,
but these are generally outweighed by the benefits to transport users in terms
reduced overall costs of travel and improved reliability"
"Road pricing would significantly reduce, but not completely eliminate, the amount of additional road build for which there would be an economic case"
THE GOOD STUFF
Eddington recognises that building more roads drives up traffic levels and CO2 emission:
"There are substantial environmental implications from adding road space. Not only does the footprint of existing roads increase with consequent landscape effects, but the likely higher volumes of road traffic generate higher levels of carbon emissions, lower air quality and increased noise levels"
"Of course, financial constraints, public acceptability and non-monetised environmental impacts will mean that investment on this scale is not desirable: the key point is that this evidence highlights the strength of the returns of targeted strategic road enhancement"
"By looking at the returns from additional fixed infrastructure, it is estimated that instead of 2,900 to 3,350 lane kilometres, if national road pricing were introduced, this would fall substantially to just an additional 500 to 850 lane kilometres on the strategic road network between 2015 and 2025. This is a reduction of some 80 per cent"
"Even with a firm timeframe for the introduction of road pricing, it is likely to take several years. In the meantime there are costs to the economy from road congestion and other pressures. This may therefore point to considering the case for implementing variable capacity options that are cheaper and faster to deliver than fixed infrastructure, reducing the risk of unnecessary investment"
For more information see the Road
Block press release.
Also see Transport 2000's briefing on Eddington here (coming soon)