New Inquiry into The Major Road Network

Terms of Reference and Call for Evidence

The Committee will inquire into the major road network in Great Britain - the network of motorways, trunk roads and principal roads that serve the country’s strategic transport needs. It will consider current and future demand for roads, how capacity can best be used, the case for expansion, alternative strategies and the implications of climate change commitments.

There are 50,310 km (31,261miles) of major roads in Great Britain. These roads carry 64% of the vehicle miles travelled on all roads in Great Britain.  Car traffic has risen from 134 billion vehicle miles to 250 billion vehicle miles since 1980.  There are over 4.4 billion passenger trips per year on buses and the road network carries two-thirds of freight moved. Road traffic overall has increased by 84 per cent since 1980.

The Eddington Transport Study investigated the long-term links between transport and the UK economy. The study found that the road network was used for 73 per cent of passenger travel and 65 per cent freight movement. The study also found that outside London, and to a lesser extent other urban centres such as Leeds and Glasgow, most road traffic consisted of private vehicles.

In July 2008, the Department for Transport published Roads - Delivering Choice and Reliability  This outlined the ways in which congestion might be tackled by making better use of the road network, including use of motorway hard-shoulders. On 29 October 2008 the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Geoff Hoon, announced that the Department for Transport would begin work to ‘ensure that we make best use of our national transport networks and accelerate the process of identifying where future expansion is needed.’  A key part of this work will be a national networks strategy group, covering road and rail, chaired by Lord Adonis. The Highways Agency, Network Rail, HM Treasury and other Government Departments will also be represented on the group.

The Government has accepted the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 and has incorporated this target into the Climate Change Bill.

Along with looking at the major road network, and examining how existing capacity can best be used or expanded, the Committee will look at possible changes to demand, including population growth and designated housing growth points. The extent to which growth in demand can be met through other modes of transport, new technology or land use policies will also be investigated. Road user charging will not be investigated in detail as the Committee will draw on information from its current inquiry Taxes and charges on road users.

The inquiry will consider:

The Current Road Network

1. Is the current major road network adequate for the needs of the UK economy and for individuals?

2. Is the maintenance of the major road network adequate to ensure optimal efficiency?

3. To what extent should responsibility for major roads be given to local highway authorities and how much control should the Highways Agency retain?

Meeting Demand

4. What should the relationship be between measures to increase road capacity and measures to manage demand for road space (for example road pricing)?

5. To what extent can alternative modes of transport, travel planning and land-use planning provide alternatives to private car use and road freight?

6. How much integration is there between the road network and other modes of transport?

7. What types of scheme should be prioritised and are current funding mechanisms reflecting these priorities?

New Developments

8. What are the implications of the Climate Change Bill for the development of the major road network?

9. What are the implications of anticipated population growth in the UK, particularly in designated growth areas, for the development of the major road network?

10. To what extent do emerging road and vehicle technology (intelligent transport systems) change the requirements for the major road network?

Interested parties are invited to submit evidence by Wednesday 14 January 2009.

Each submission should:

€ be no more than 3,000 words in length;

€ begin with a short summary in bullet point form;

€ have numbered paragraphs; and

€ be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked "The major road network inquiry". An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Ronnie Jefferson

Transport Committee

Committee Office

House of Commons

7 Millbank

London SW1P 3JA

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee's report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Please also note that:

€ Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

€ Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.

€ Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

€ Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.


1. Committee Membership is as follows: Mrs Louise Ellman (Chairman) (Liverpool Riverside), Mr David Clelland (Tyne Bridge), Clive Efford (Eltham), Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Mr John Leech (Manchester Withington), Mr Eric Martlew (Carlisle), Mr Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin), Mr Graham Stringer (Manchester Blackley), Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne), Sammy Wilson (East Antrim).

2. Transcripts of evidence sessions for the Committee's inquiries can be found on the Committee website at:

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