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The Government has announced major £28bn plans for the UK’s roads that will see the biggest ever upgrade of the existing network accompanied by a £500m boost for ultra-low emission vehicles.

Announced by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the “Action for Roads” command paper is fully funded by June’s spending review and will see the national network of motorways and trunk roads gain extra lanes, smoother, quieter surfaces, improved junctions and new sections in key areas.

In addition, £12bn will be used for road maintenance over the course of the next parliament, with £6bn of this for maintenance and resurfacing 80% of motorways and major A-roads by 2020. The remaining £6bn will be spent on tackling the backlog of maintenance and reduce potholes on local roads which make up the rest of the country’s road network.

In addition, the Government is committing £500m to support the UK ultra-low emission vehicle industry, saying that it is ‘demonstrating its determination to support UK jobs while achieving the twin goals of decarbonising motor vehicles and improving air quality’.

The changes will also see the Highways Agency turned into a publicly owned company with six year funding certainty for capital projects and maintenance.

The funding and reform will be underpinned by legislation so future governments cannot walk away from these commitments.

Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘Today’s (16 July 2013) changes will bring an end to the short-term thinking that has blighted investment in England’s roads so that we can deliver the infrastructure our economy needs. Backed by the government’s £28bn commitment, they will give us a road network fit for the 21st century and beyond.’

The move has been greeted by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA). Chief executive Gerry Keaney said: ‘UK road users pay £47bn in motoring taxes each year and will welcome the fact that more of this money will be used to make their journeys safer, less congested and with a reduced impact on the environment.

‘The BVRLA has consistently called for the Highways Agency to be made a publically owned, non-political body that can provide a long-term continuity of investment for motorists. As the trade body representing the business motorist  we are keen to work with the Department for Transport in developing a robust ‘Motorists Champion’ that can speak for the needs of consumers and at-work road users.

‘We also look forward to helping OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) allocate this extra £500m for electric vehicles. The current range of plug-in incentives have had a disappointing impact on the market for ultra-low carbon vehicles. We believe that some of this new £500m should be spent on longer-term, in-life incentives such as VED-exemption, subsidised charging points and free parking, which would support current owners of electric cars and vans and stimulate demand for used plug-in vehicles.’

 

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