South Downs Network: Response to National Highways consultation

Research by Harry Robson, MLitt., BA Hons.,

National Highways (previously Highways England), the UK Government’s powerful road building agency is now preparing the route strategies for ‘RIS 3’ for the period 2025 to 2030 and beyond, which will cover the building and adaption of motorways (if they get their way!) and trunk roads in England.

For those of us in or near the South Downs National Park schemes may include: A27 at Chichester, A27 at Lancing/Worthing and A27 East of Lewes. Sadly the consultation which has just closed does not apply to the National Highways proposals at Arundel. The multi million pound road project on the ‘grey route’ is a scheme that comes within the existing phase 2 (known as RIS2) of expenditure by the Government. The formal consultation for this opens on January 11th. We are awaiting details to be published by National Highways.

After only one month National Highways have closed their public consolation on this multibillion pound 5 year expenditure programme for 2025 to 2030 called ‘RIS3’. Whilst this isn’t going to be the only opportunity for you to give your views to this Government quango, it is surprising that they only allowed one month including the Christmas period for the public to give their views. The South Downs Network raised a number of issues with National Highways in their letter of the 30th of December. Click here to download and read this letter.

South Downs Network’s Letter to National Highways

Here are the key points from the letter:

A Multimodal Strategy is needed

The transition from private, car-centred transport to a multimodal strategy should be accelerated. That as the UK emerges from the pandemic, it is imperative that the health, wealth and happiness of its citizens are at the heart of all future development. A transportation network which ensures all three will be the cornerstone of our economic recovery and a bulwark against the climate crisis. However, we cannot fix 21st century problems with 20th century solutions. We must accelerate the transition from private, car-centred transport to a multimodal public network of rail, bus and active travel.

Carbon emissions

  • The UK Government must honour its commitment to achieve net zero by 2050
  • A multimodal network which prioritises rail, bus and active travel is the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions, by making significant reductions in private car usage
  • National Highways should provide evidence in RIS3 how they propose to achieve the Government’s commitment to Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2050

Induced traffic

  • Increased road capacity not only fails to address the issue of congestion, in the long term it contributes to an increase in traffic
  • The road network must be better, not bigger

Nature and biodiversity

  • The UK’s natural landscape is unique, inimitable and irreplaceable
  • Habitat destruction should be avoided altogether until all viable alternatives are exhausted

Future of transport

  • The Transport Secretary has expressed his desire for a future in which ‘public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities’
  • To best serve future generations, infrastructure projects must evolve beyond 20th century thinking – we need sustainable solutions not just construction projects


  • Sustainable economic recovery from the pandemic should be a priority in future infrastructure projects
  • National Highways must display more budget responsibility and favour road improvement over road construction
  • Biodiversity and natural resources should be considered as economic factors in future evaluations

National Parks

  • National Highways should avoid the construction of major roads in or near National Parks and their ‘setting’

Integrated Transport Solutions

  • National Highways should demonstrate in detail how in RIS3 they intend to integrate their road plans with bus, rail and active travel plans


One thought on “South Downs Network: Response to National Highways consultation

  1. The cycleway between Polegate and Firle, currently under construction, will probably be used by NH as a box-ticking example of providing for cyclists. However, the reality is that it will only be of interest to long-distance cyclists, and little used by the local population either for commuting or leisure, as it is close to a nasty road along its length, and too long as a cycle commute.
    The question might be: how many cycle paths on the national trunk roads would be of significant benefit to cyclists’ needs, compared with paths built along local roads?

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