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Mon October 26 2020

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Revised road programme leaves haulers relieved but contractors dismayed

27 Oct 10 For the Freight Transport Association the glass is half full but the Civil Engineering Contractors can see no good news in the Department of Transport’s statement on projects to go forward.

Of the nine motorway and trunk road schemes that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has spared from the axe, six had been previously identified by the FTA as key priorities that are essential to the UK’s economic future.

James Hookham, FTA’s managing director of policy and communications, said: “In the run up to these announcements, FTA has been pushing the point that these transport schemes are not an optional extra, but an essential ingredient for future growth. Mr Hammond’s acknowledgement of transport as a key driver for such growth is very welcome as are his announcements to save priority trade routes. We do, however, remain concerned that the Strategic Freight Network has yet to be mentioned in any form by the government, with a potential delay announcing its future possible until next Spring when the McNulty Value for Money study is published.”

CECA remains more concerned about the £1 billion+ of Highways Agency schemes that have been put on the back burner.

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CECA head of industry affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “It is highly regrettable that a large number of road schemes are being held back. Both strategic and local road projects have taken a big hit, depriving some parts of England of much needed transport improvements. Local growth in areas such as the North East, East Midlands and the South West may now be held back as a result.

“Overall, contractors were expecting transport infrastructure to play a part in the cuts, but this will have an impact beyond the civils sector, disadvantaging businesses and communities across England. Whilst the ‘value for money’ case for roads must be made, the Secretary of State acknowledged the role of efficient and effective transport links in helping boost the economy, going so far as to state that for every £1 invested in roads schemes, the return ‘in benefits’ is up to £6. Clearly then, cutting or pushing back road schemes now is not going to serve their objective of getting the economy to a point of sustainable growth.”

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