£27 Billion Road Building Plan Faces Renewed Legal Challenge Over Environmental Impact

Evaluating the environmental impacts of roads only locally but not also nationally is wrong, lawyers plan to tell a High Court judge on October 29 in the latest stage of a legal challenge to the government’s £27 billion road building program.

Acting for campaign group Transport Action Network (TAN), the lawyers will argue that the government must no longer assess each proposed road scheme’s pollution impact individually—what TAN calls “salami slicing”—but should carry out a cumulative assessment.

Part of TAN’s challenge was earlier rejected by a judge and now the campaign group aims to renew its claim via an oral—albeit remote—hearing.

TAN started its legal challenge in April, demanding that the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England must scrap their five-year road building plan saying it breaches the government’s legally binding commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The “stop the salami slicing” argument will be delivered to planning court judge Mrs Justice Laing over Microsoft Teams tomorrow.

TAN is seeking permission to bring a judicial review of the DfT’s roads program on air quality grounds. It was granted the right to challenge its climate impacts in July.

TAN is represented by the same legal team which, in February, halted the DfT’s plan to expand Heathrow.

The Court of Appeal ruled Heathrow expansion plans were illegal because the DfT’s plans did not meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement of 2015. (Heathrow later appealed this decision.)

TAN believes that the Coronavirus lockdown could “reset” how Britons feel about roads, and that there’s never been a better chance for challenging the green credentials of the UK's road building program.

Source: Forbes