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Roads: Construction

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent research his Department has (a) evaluated and (b) commissioned on the environmental impact of new road building; and what guidance his Department has issued to local and regional authorities on the management of such effects. (280732)

All major road schemes submitted to the Department for Transport by local authorities or promoted by the Highways Agency are subject to a full assessment against the Government's five overarching objectives of safety, environment, economy, integration and accessibility.

The Highways Agency also has in place a set of advice notes in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges that deal with the environmental design and management of roads. These advice notes state clearly that good environmental design is a matter of respecting the special character of each individual location where a road improvement may be sited. While this is written with the trunk road system in mind, local highway authorities are likely to find it useful for their purposes, too.

In addition, the Department has commissioned research into valuing transport's impact on the natural landscape. The results of phases 1 and 2 of the study are reported on the Department's website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/economics/rdg/landscape/

The Highways Agency has recently released a report, ‘Post Opening Project Evaluation: Meta Analysis’, on the evaluation of a number of Highways Agency schemes. A copy of the report can be found at the following weblink:

http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/18386.aspx

The Highways Agency is also developing an improved methodology to account for the changes to the quantity of vehicle emissions that affect air quality that can result from new road schemes.

Finally, the Department is collaborating with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to manage research that they have commissioned to investigate the health impacts of environmental noise.