The planning policy for England’s road network is going to be reviewed because of changes to people’s shopping and work since Coronavirus hit and government restrictions were imposed.
The current plan was drawn up in 2014 but the Press Association reports that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps believes these need to be re-examined because the shift towards online working and shopping is “unlikely to be fully reversed”, and also because they were made before new environmental targets were set.
“In the last 18 months, fundamental changes have occurred in commuting, shopping, and business travel, which before the pandemic made up 30% of all road journeys by distance, and a much higher proportion at the times and places of greatest pressure,” PA quotes Mr Shapps as telling the Commons. “Trends already under way in homeworking, online shopping and videoconferencing, all of which had reduced trip rates even before the pandemic, have dramatically increased, and seem unlikely to be fully reversed.”
But there had also been a “hopefully temporary” move away from public transport during the pandemic and an increase in delivery traffic.
Mr Shapps said there could also be increases in driving when electric and autonomous vehicles become more common.
The report adds that Mr Shapps stressed that high investment in roads will remain necessary, pointing out that more than half of the £27 billion programme for England’s strategic roads is for improvements to the existing network or to improve safety or the environment.
(Picture – Highways England)