Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden MP is facing questions from the House of Commons Transport Committee on the future of England’s A roads and motorways.
In this final session of the Committee’s inquiry into strategic road investment, MPs will also question chiefs of sub-national transport bodies (STBs) Midlands Connect, England’s Economic Heartland and Transport for the North.
The inquiry focuses on the five-yearly, multi-billion pound Road Investment Strategies, each containing a portfolio of improvements to existing key roads and complex upgrades.
The Committee says this strand of work was prompted by a highly critical NAO report, which pointed to failures by National Highways and the Department for Transport to spot risks that have seen the RISs go billions over budget, leading some projects to be scrapped or postponed.
Witnesses from the STBs will be asked to comment on the role of the strategic road network in their regional transport priorities. They will also be asked about their level of collaboration with DfT and National Highways in developing RIS programmes, and for their thoughts on how certain projects complement policies such as net zero and levelling up.
Some figures from STBs have argued they should be given more funding and influence over deciding major road projects in their areas. They will be questioned on how this could be suitable for nationally significant infrastructure.
Mr Holden, appearing alongside senior DfT officials, will be asked to clarify the future of projects in RIS programmes 1-3 and give assurances that officials are accurately forecasting their cost and completion times. There may also be questions about the lack of public information about the projects, their timelines and costs. And he will be asked about the future balance of investment in maintaining and expanding the network, as well as plans to install electric vehicle charging points across the major road network.
(Picture – Richard Holden’s website)