1 Dec 2014

Will a £15bn scheme revitalise England’s road network?

A tunnel passing Stonehenge is among dozens of new road schemes to be announced by the government, as part of £15bn of improvements to England’s roads.

Improvements to junctions on the M25, to the A27 in Sussex, to approaches to Liverpool and to the A1 in the north east of England are also contained in the package billed as the first-ever Road Investment Strategy.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury and chairman of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee Danny Alexander said the projects would “help unleash the economic potential of both the regions they serve and of the overall economy.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin hailed the strategy as “the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades”, while Chancellor George Osborne said it would “transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes” .

New projects announced today include:

  • South West – £2bn to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge
  • North East – £290m to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham
  • North West and Yorkshire – driving forward the Northern Powerhouse project by completing the smart (lane increasing) motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds
  • North West – improving links to the Port of Liverpool
  • South East – £350m of improvements to the A27 along the south coast
  • East of England – £300m to upgrade the east-west connection to Norfolk
  • London and the South East – improving one-third of the junctions on the entire M25
  • Midlands: improving the M42 to the east of Birmingham

In addition the strategy has more details of the already-announced plan to turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company. The Government says this will mean funding can be allocated on a longer-term basis, saving the taxpayer at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

There will also be £100 million to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network, as well as a commitment to cycle-proof any new schemes being developed.


Mr McLoughlin said “Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.

“This Government has a long term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that. Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country.”

‘Consistently let down’

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher said that the plans were “just yet another re-announcement on promised road improvements.

“The Government has ‘announced’ plans for road investment at least three times since 2013. And no additional money has been announced.

David Cameron’s record on infrastructure is one of all talk and no delivery. Michael Dugher

“Ministers will be judged not on what they promise to deliver in the next Parliament, but on what they have actually delivered in this one – and the truth is barely a shovel has been used in anger on our nation’s highways over the last four and a half years.

“If Ministers were as good at upgrading roads as they are at making announcements about upgrading roads, life would be considerably easier for Britain’s hard-pressed motorists who have been consistently let down by this Government”.