York Green Party

Ring road spending 'a monumental waste'

11 December 2014

A £15 billion trunk road building programme was announced by the chancellor, George Osborne, in his Autumn Statement last week. Environmentalists and transport planners reacted with dismay to the announcement. Though politically popular, the economic benefits from roadbuilding have been shown to be marginal, whilst the environmental costs are known to be high[1].

Green Party leader Natalie Bennet called the spending plan "the wrong spending for the wrong reasons - new and utterly unnecessary spending on failed road schemes."

Part of the funding, originally announced in the 2013 spending round[2], includes £250 million earmarked for upgrading the A64 east of York and building a flyover at the Hopgrove roundabout.

Green Party Councillor Andy D'Agorne called the plans "a monumental waste of money as well as a blot on York's skyline". He said: "This is typical of the government's approach to long term transport investment. £10m has been spent on widening this roundabout in recent years, only for the Secretary of State to decide on an election ploy offering to replace it with a flyover as part of the government's road widening programme."

The incumbent MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy, has been lobbying hard for improvements to be made to the ring road, despite the huge cost and low benefits identified in a previous study of the plans[3]. Yet despite the proven futility of roadbuilding, politicians of different colours continue to play with the idea.

Andy D'Agorne said, "Dualling the road towards the east would help to clear traffic from the junction without the flyover but there will still be a bottleneck where this ends. Increasing the junction capacity with a flyover will just attract more traffic and make the jam there worse"

All three main parties want to find £300m for 'at grade' dualling of the northern ring road. Without flyovers, the main effect will be more queuing space for more cars at peak times. Modelling work for the Local Plan (Jun 2013) states dualling could achieve 13% cut in delay whereas smarter choices actions (like the £4.6m, 3 year itravelyork programme) could cut delay by 26% -46%.

Andy D'Agorne said, "the total of £600m for roadbuilding locally would be far better spent on modern rapid transit systems and 'smarter choices' to help people make full use of walking cycling car sharing and public transport. Congestion is a major problem,but bigger roundabouts and more dual carriageways are like drinking strong coffees rather than having a good night's sleep."

He said that at a time when there is insufficient budget for essential flood defences in the region, this waste of money is a 'lemming like' decision, fuelling climate change and air pollution with increased vehicle emissions.


Related stories:


  1. See the SACTRA report 1994 - Trunk Roads and the Generation of Traffic - or this summary of research on the website of the Campaign for Better Transport.
  2. You can read the document 'Investing in Britain’s future' on the government website here (PDF)
  3. A report was commissioned from Halcrow in 2008 - summarised in this Council report.

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