Today, at the BCC Annual Conference, the Road Users’ Alliance (RUA) will call for streamlining of planning procedures to speed up delivery of much needed road improvement schemes. “Vital budgets for road improvements are being severely depleted as convoluted planning procedures stall delivery and increase costs,” says RUA Director Tim Green. Opening a panel debate on Britain’s infrastructure, Green will explain that while our congestion is the worst in Europe, and our road capacity has been neglected for decades, straightforward road-widening schemes and by-passes to keep our traffic moving are routinely running 2-3 years late. With costs escalating by 20% - 30%, at least one in five schemes risks complete cancellation as funds run out. RUA is publishing the first of a series of road maps illustrating the insignificant contribution of road improvement schemes currently underway, both nationally on the diminishing strategic road network and locally in the English regions. While traffic has increased 9% since the publication of the Government’s Ten Year Plan and the first round of Local Transport Plans (LTPs), many “approved” local road schemes are still waiting for the green light. With traffic forecast to grow another 20% by 2010, the very limited programme to improve our road infrastructure will be set back yet another decade. There is little relief in sight as costs soar and regional schemes dwindle.

ROAD PROJECTS STALLED /2 The issues of congestion and unreliable journey times are a major concern for businesses in the regions and, as identified by the OECD, a major threat to their productivity and competitiveness. There is little relief in sight as costs soar and regional schemes dwindle: · 6 major road projects worth £60m were approved for the North East of England in their LTP settlement of 2000. Just two have been completed and the original estimate of £58.9m has spiralled 30% to £79.42m. Two of the original schemes have now had their funding withdrawn. · 12 projects were approved in the East of England LTPs, at an original cost of £170m. Five years on just two have been delivered and two are currently underway, while estimated costs have now spiralled over 40% to £242m. · Just 1 major road project worth £13m was approved for the SE of England in their LTP settlement of 2000. To date it has not been completed, but costs have nearly doubled to £23.3m. · 6 major road projects worth £72.3m were approved for the West Midlands in their LTP settlement of 2000. To date just two have been completed, whilst the original estimate of £72.3m. has spiralled 30%, to £96.66m David Frost, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce, points out that failures in the UK’s transport infrastructure are costing UK business £15 billion per year and rising: “Roads are the most important aspect of this country’s transport network with 84% of business viewing roads as essential to their future success. RUA’s maps are a welcome tool highlighting how the planning process is causing costly delays to vital road improvement schemes.”

ROAD PROJECTS STALLED /3 David Frost adds, “The British Chambers of Commerce is launching an integrated transport campaign to press the case for a 30-year national framework, backed up by increased investment and an increased priority in next year’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Our campaign will also focus on calling for changes to the planning system to ensure that delays such as these can be avoided and we can get business moving. Planning is an area that has remained in the dark ages in the UK and we need it brought, dragged if necessary, into the 21st Century."