We're part of an alliance of 17 environmental groups today proposing a fresh approach to the Government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), suggesting a focus on improving existing roads and motorways rather than building new ones.
Our joint report, Rising to the challenge: a shared green vision for RIS2, has been co-ordinated by Campaign for Better Transport and calls for funding to be prioritised for a ‘green retrofit’ of the current road network ahead of the provision of new road capacity.
The Trust in particular has contributed to the ‘safeguarding the environment’ section of the report. We're currently aware of 45 ancient woods directly threatened by road development across the UK.
Following the publication of its first Road Investment Strategy, Highways England hired an external consultancy to create a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) to guide its future infrastructure development. One of the key statements in this plan is to achieve “no net loss” and in time a “net gain” of biodiversity.
It is impossible to achieve net gain or even no net loss of biodiversity when ancient woodland is destroyed though, it is irreplaceable.
We need to see evidence of BAP delivery to appraise the progress of Highways England in more sensitive environmental mitigation, yet we have seen no evidence that this monitoring is even taking place as their reports are not being published.
Road building doesn’t have to be at the detriment of the natural environment; we have seen some evidence of forward thinking such as the Hindhead tunnel, this is the standard to which all other schemes should aspire.