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Transport Action Network begins legal challenge against Road Investment Strategy 2

Transport Action Network (TAN) is challenging the Secretary of State's decision to go ahead with Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), described by the Chancellor as the “largest ever” road plans in England.

Posted on 22 April 2020

Leigh Day has sent a Pre-Action Protocol letter on behalf of TAN, a group campaigning for sustainable transport, to the Department for Transport (DfT).
TAN wrote to the Secretary of State following the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the government’s decision to expand Heathrow Airport was unlawful on climate change grounds. TAN requested a pause on the publication of RIS2 to reconsider its environmental effects. The government did not respond to that letter and launched RIS2 on 11 March 2020 alongside the Budget.
RIS2 is estimated to cost £27.4 billion and includes the building of thousands of miles of roads. Over the next two years the DfT are expecting over 50 projects to be in construction.
TAN argues that RIS2 breaches climate and air quality laws. In particular, TAN argues that the DfT has not taken into account the Net Zero Target before publishing RIS2 and the Secretary of State has not considered whether RIS2 is in line with the Paris Agreement.
TAN argues that the Government’s reliance on the uptake of Electric Vehicles (EVs) to help it meet the Net Zero Target is incompatible with the plan for the Strategic Roads Network because EVs are largely used for shorter journeys and the sale of conventional cars and vans will only be ended in 2040. Also, the Decarbonisation Plan Consultation proposes using cars less to meet the Net Zero Target.
TAN is fundraising for the case for the case through CrowdJustice.
TAN is represented by Rowan Smith from Leigh Day. David Wolfe QC of Matrix chambers and Pete Lockley of 11KBW are instructed.
Chris Todd, TAN’s director, says:
“While the DfT has fiddled with ideas like green number plates, road transport has become the single biggest source of UK carbon emissions. How can the DfT claim to take climate change seriously when it is set to burn billions on the ‘largest ever roads programme’?
“In the last few weeks ministers have said they want to go ‘further and faster’ to tackle climate change, finally recognising we need ‘to use our cars less’. Planning for RIS2 started in 2015, quite simply a different era. This massive roads programme has become like a juggernaut that’s out of control, that no one can stop. We now have no choice but to go to court to prevent an unfolding disaster.”
Rowan Smith, environmental law solicitor at Leigh Day, said:
“Our clients are raising legitimate concerns over the Government’s decision to invest huge sums of public money into the road network, at a time when it is widely established that the climate emergency surely demands a move away from a continued reliance on fossil fuels towards more sustainable transport. 

"They agree that it is right that the Government should do more on electric vehicles and ban new diesel cars, yet point out that the Road Investment Strategy would still mean vast amounts of carbon and pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, with inevitably disastrous effects on the environment and habitats. 
"Our clients are therefore arguing that the Government ought to have properly assessed the climate change and air pollution impact of these proposals before going ahead.”