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Transport Action Network issues legal case to challenge Road Investment Strategy 2

Transport Action Network (TAN) has applied for a judicial review of the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' decision to go ahead with Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), a £27 billion programme to build thousands of miles of roads across the UK.

Posted on 05 June 2020

The programme would involve up to 50 roads projects being in construction over the next two years.
Represented by Leigh Day solicitors, and barristers David Wolfe QC and Peter Lockley, TAN says the Department for Transport (DfT) has ignored the fact that building roads and increased traffic would make it harder to meet binding climate change and air pollution targets. 
The DfT says it expects to map out the action needed in wider plans, such as a Transport Decarbonisation Plan, but those are future commitments that TAN says do not mean DfT met its legal duties at the time RIS2 was published. 
If permission for a judicial review is granted, the case would be heard in the High Court in the autumn.
Rebecca Lush, TAN’s local campaigns support officer, said:
“Air pollution has breached legal limits for over a decade while Greenhouse Gas Emissions from transport have barely changed since 1990. With 2020 set to be the hottest year on record, we cannot put off urgent action any longer. Even when all the evidence points to a need to change direction, the Department for Transport has been unable to kick its addiction to road-building. Only a resounding defeat in the courts can shake it out of its complacency. now.”
Chris Todd, TAN’s director, said:
“With more people enjoying fresh air and wanting to ‘Build Back Better’, our challenge to road-building could not have been better timed. Hitting reset on the DfT’s roads plan will release billions to tackle the £16bn bridge and pothole backlog on local roads. And it will free up funding for alternatives to being stuck in traffic, whether cycleways for e-bikes or reopening railways. That’s better for kick-starting the economy after the current crisis, while safeguarding our health and our environment.”
Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said:

“Our client believes that a road building programme runs completely counter to strategies that will be needed to meet climate change targets. They believe that the public wants transport systems that will work towards a greener future for the UK, and that spending £27 billion on new roads will not be the answer.
“The plunge in traffic noise and pollution and a resulting awareness of nature that has been very evident during the COVID-19 lockdown has, our client believes, changed attitudes towards the possibilities of creating a greener future for the nation and the planet. This roads building programme, our client believes, does not tally with the change in thinking.”

Rowan Smith
Climate change Environment Human rights Judicial review Planning Wildlife

Rowan Smith

Rowan Smith is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department.

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