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DfT unveils policy statement aimed at speeding up infrastructure planning

The Department for Transport has published its draft national policy statement for the UK’s transport networks to reduce planning delays on nationally significant schemes.

Government policy will focus on reducing congestion on roads and increasing capacity on the rail network to support economic growth, the DfT said in its draft national policy statement for national networks.

The NPS aims to set out a clear policy on future transport infrastructure developments to reduce the need for a lengthy planning process when projects are considered nationally significant.

On the strategic road network, the DfT said traffic would increase by 42 per cent between 2010 and 2040, causing the direct cost of congestion to rise from £2bn to £8.6bn.

“The draft national networks statement is the first step towards a more efficient regime for the planning of major road and rail schemes, speeding up delivery”

Alasdair Reisner, CECA

It said improvements and enhancements would be needed to the existing network to reduce congestion, including junction improvements, new slip roads and turning single-carriage major roads into dual carriageways.

The NPS said “some new road alignments and corresponding links” would also be required, including roads crossing rivers and estuaries to deliver increased capacity and support regional economic growth.

Rail

The rail network is also expected to come under increased strain, with passenger miles on the rail network set to grow by up to 46 per cent by 2030 according to government forecasts.

An “incremental approach” to make more efficient use of the existing rail infrastructure would not be enough to cope with rising demand, the DfT said.

It added that investment in interurban routes between cities and on important commuter routes in London and the South-east would be needed, and that the government would consider new or re-opened routes.

The policy document does not cover High Speed 2, however the DfT said where new inter-urban routes are needed, high speed rail would offer the most effective way to deliver them.


The Civil Engineering Contractors Association welcomed the draft NPS. CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “The publication of the draft national networks statement is the first step towards a more efficient regime for the planning of major road and rail schemes, speeding up delivery.

“We look forward to working with the DfT to ensure the final national policy statement reflects the UK’s long-term transport needs,” he added.

The draft NPS also outlined a need for an expanded network of strategic rail freight interchanges near urban centres across the country to reduce the cost of moving freight and reliance on the road network.

“We look forward to working with the DfT to ensure that the final national policy statement reflects the UK’s long-term transport needs”

Alasdair Reisner, CECA

A public consultation on the extent to which the draft NPS provides an adequate planning policy will run until February 2014. It will also undergo parliamentary scrutiny and a review by the DfT before it can be formally designated later in 2014.

NPSs already exist for energy, including fossil fuel; renewable energy gas; electricity networks and nuclear power; ports; waste water; and hazardous waste.

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