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Transport Action Network granted permission for a full hearing of government’s cuts to cycling and walking investment

Campaign group Transport Action Network (TAN) has been granted permission for a judicial review hearing by the High Court to question the lawfulness of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) decision to dramatically reduce funding for walking and cycling infrastructure in England.

Posted on 27 October 2023

The High Court granted TAN permission on Thursday 26 October for a full hearing, a decision that will allow TAN to progress with its argument that the government’s move to cut dedicated funding for cycling and walking by 75% puts at risk air pollution targets, bypasses climate protection commitments, and that it is unlawful as the cuts were made without consideration of whether objectives to improve active travel could still be met with reduced funding.

Even before the cuts to funding, the DfT predicted that it would fail to meet the target of 50% of urban journeys being walked or cycled by 2030, which forms a central part of the UK’s climate and air quality plans. TAN argues that the cuts will further damage the environment and plans for sustainable travel.

The High Court ruling was given on the same day that the government responded to the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) 2023 Progress Report. Damningly, the CCC forecasts that transport emissions will not fall fast enough, and called on the government to restore funding for active travel.

Chris Todd, Director of Transport Action Network said:

“This could set a hugely helpful precedent for healthy travel. When they cut funding in March, ministers promised to find additional cash as soon as possible. Yet of the £36 billion saved from cutting HS2 this month, not a penny was dedicated to active travel. There wasn’t a single example of a walking or cycling scheme in the huge list of projects the Prime Minister was promising.

“It’s obvious that ministers are no longer serious, whether about their commitments to cut congestion, improve travel choices, address climate change or clean up our air. We’re disappointed that we had no choice but to take them to court. However, we’re delighted the judge agreed this important case deserves a full hearing.”

TAN is represented by Leigh Day human rights senior associate solicitor Rowan Smith.

Rowan Smith said:

"Our client is understandably delighted with this result. It now means that the Court will fully scrutinise whether the Government’s cuts to dedicated funding for national cycling and walking infrastructure were made in line with what the law says about active travel, air pollution and equalities impact.”

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Rowan Smith

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

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