The government has confirmed its review into roads funding models has been delayed until the new year.
The construction industry had expected a reponse on the future of the strategic road network in 2012, but in its growth document, published alongside the autumn statement, it said: “The government is assessing the feasibility of new ownership and financing models for the strategic road network, and will report on progress in the new year.”
In March the prime minister commissioned a study to look at ways of attracting private sector involvement in the road network and said at the time that the government would “take difficult decisions” and “risk short-term unpopularity” to show it was serious about building for the future.
He added: “We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private investment into the national roads network.”
CN understands that the report has been given to the prime minister, and several sources had told CN they were expecting an announcement about the future financing models this week.
The CBI called for a regulated asset base model in September that would be administered through a governing body to replace the Highways Agency, a model thought to be favoured by the government.
Under the CBI’s proposed scheme, road users would have a proportion of their motoring taxes converted to a user charge – controlled by the regulator – to access the strategic road network.
However there is believed to be political differences within the government about how much individual users should be charged, varying from those who use the road sparsely to freight operators.
CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “We have welcomed the government’s previous commitment to consider the future ownership and management of the strategic roads network.
“While we recognise that any decision on the future of funding for roads will be controversial, this is a hugely important decision for UK plc.
“We had hoped we might receive some clarity on this issue at the autumn statement, but understand that it is better to take the time to make the right decision than rush to the wrong conclusion. We look forward to hearing the government’s views in the new year.”