To consider the report of the Major Roads Strategy Manager.
8.1 This item was taken after item 9.
8.2 Members received the report from the Major Roads Strategy Manager who highlighted the key points of the report and the presentation.
8.3 The Chair informed Members of the questions which had been received from Mr Rae who represents the Environmental Transport Grouping and explained that the Major Roads Strategy Manager would provide Mr. Rae with TfN’s responses. The following questions were received:
· Should the MRR not contain an explicit commitment to compatibility with the Decarbonisation Strategy, as is required by the TfN strategic transport plan?
· Has an analysis been undertaken that establishes whether TfN’s proposed investment in increased road capacity, facilitating more traffic generation, either assists the proposed carbon reduction pathway to Net Zero or alternatively undermines it?
· How would the MRR manage increased demand for road travel consistent with its preferred future travel scenario and in order to achieve its 2030 & 2050 carbon reduction targets?
· TfN’s Strategic Goal for the environment requires TfN to make best use of existing transport infrastructure before investing in new capacity. Has TfN undertaken such an assessment to see if best use is being made of the road network?
· Will TfN review (or ask DfT/National Highways to do likewise) the strategic case for all the MRR road schemes in the context of the Green Book?
· The negative impacts of the MRR on the wider environment are nowhere to be found in the documents. Carbon emissions reduction is not the only emergency – there is a nature crisis and a public health crisis as well. What are the impacts of the MRR investments on these other two emergencies, and why have they not been included within its analysis?
8.4 Cllr Melia believed that there were contradictions in the report and raised a number of issues including the reliability of public transport when roads are congested with cars and the issue of air quality leading to a disparity in health outcomes.
8.5 Members discussed the importance of the need to decarbonise road vehicles and the need to improve the road network in order to reduce congestion.
8.6 In response to the issues raised the Major Roads Strategy Manager explained that highways are a flexible network and noted the reallocation of road space for other modes of transport at the start of the pandemic. He further explained that issues such as air quality will be in part be addressed by a shift to more electric vehicles, and that wider policy initiatives on decarbonising the power generation would influence the impact of moving to EVs with respect to carbon emissions. . He also updated Members on the TfN’s work evidencing the need for, and distribution of electric vehicle charging points across all areas of the North.
8.7 The Chair stated that the question of how many vehicles can afford to be on the road in order to meet carbon net zero by 2050 needs to be addressed. The Major Roads Strategy Manager explained that an analysis of how future traffic levels would impact on the decarbonisation trajectory has been undertaken and that he would ensure that was communicated in the Major Roads Report.
8.8 The committee requested that the report going to Board in November 2021 include a further section on how much vehicle use will need to change over the next 30 years in order to feed into the debate over road use.
That the report be noted.