The government’s plan to invest in £15 billion in 100 new road schemes, has been welcomed by logistics and transport organisations – although the Road Haulage Association also called for £150m in funding for driver training.
The Freight Transport Association described the plan as “good news for the freight and logistics sector”.
The plans include: £1.5bn to add an extra lane on key motorways; £2bn to dual the A303 and build a tunnel under Stonehenge; £290m to dual the A1 up to Ellingham in Northumberland; and £350m for improvements to the A27 along the south coast.
Some 84 of the 100 schemes are new. The government calculates that 1,300 lane, miles will be added by schemes being delivered over the next parliament on motorways and trunk roads.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential.”
RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett welcomed the investment but said: “However, road improvements are just part of the jigsaw. The fact remains that this industry is now facing a critical driver shortage. While road improvements and road building are good news, they will have little effect on the industry that, quite literally moves the economy forward if there are not enough HGV drivers to take advantage of the improvements. We need government to invest in training for drivers. This announcement makes it clear that the money is there – it makes sense that funding for training is made available.
“The Road Haulage Association is asking the Chancellor for an industry investment of less than £150 million. This would provide training for the 45,000 drivers the industry so desperately needs. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the announced £15 billion spend.”
Malcolm Bingham, FTA head of road network management policy, said: “FTA believes that this investment announcement has significant benefits for the freight industry in setting improvements to journey reliability. The freight and logistics industry relies upon reliable road infrastructure to ensure that products are move efficiently and at reasonable cost.”
The roads plan also got the thumbs up from the Confederation of British Industry.
Director-general John Cridland said: “This five-year strategy marks a significant milestone in our journey towards the delivery of much-needed upgrades to our existing road network, the arteries of our economy.”
And Robert Keen, director-general of the British International Freight Association said: “On behalf of our members, which rely on the UK roads network to collect and deliver the vast majority of the UK’s imports and exports, we hope that the plans mean that the talking is over and we will actually see construction taking place.”