More than one in three road schemes cancelled and delayed, Highways England says

Neil Lancefield

More than one in three major road projects included in an investment strategy have been cancelled or delayed.

Highways England, the government-owned company responsible for motorways and major A-roads in England, was due to begin 112 schemes between 2015 and 2020.

But its 2019-20 delivery plan revealed that 10 of the projects have either been cancelled, are under review or paused.

These include the M53 junctions 5-11 in the northwest, the A27 Chichester bypass in the southeast and the A14 junction 10a in the midlands.

A further 29 have been delayed until the second five-year road investment strategy, which means they could be as late as 2025.

That means 35 per cent of schemes are not happening as scheduled.

It was claimed the £15bn road investment strategy would “revolutionise the network” when it was launched by the coalition government in 2014.

A spokesman for Highways England said: “In total, we are progressing over 90 per cent of schemes proposed in the original road investment programme in 2015. It was always presumed that there would be change to the first road investment programme, particularly with the large number of schemes that were at the very early stages of design.

“As they are designed and progressed, we do further analysis, listen to stakeholders and examine environmental issues in more detail. In a small minority of cases we have concluded that schemes do not represent value for money or are unacceptable to stakeholders. In these cases, it is right that the schemes should not go ahead.

“While improving our roads, we do as much as we can to minimise disruption and the effect of the road network on the environment.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Motorists look to Highways England to manage its programme swiftly, efficiently, but also in a way that doesn’t totally clog up whole sections of the network with cones, hence this sort of re-profiling is to be expected. With more time to plan the next wave of schemes for the second road investment strategy period it is to be hoped that we won’t need to see this scale of rescheduling again.”

Press Association