Hauxley looking west

Member Article

Replace road expansion with a greener future

Northumberland Wildlife Trust has expressed disappointment at the Government’s plans for new roads and large-scale expansion, and believes the £15 billion allocated for the road network could be much better spent on combating the effects of climate change and environmental problems caused by roads - which include polluted road run-off, sound and air pollution plus habitat loss and fragmentation.

Steve Lowe, Head of Conservation at Northumberland Wildlife Trust says: “Allocating less than two percent of a massive £15bn budget to repairing and improving wildlife habitat is a shocking missed opportunity and a sign that Government chooses not to understand the importance of investing in nature, although, in this region we are working successfully with statutory agencies and others to lessen impacts or to amply mitigate should any arise.”

Steve continues: “We’re calling on the government to show a greater commitment to restoring nature and improving our environment in the Autumn Statement tomorrow - we’d like to see this reflected in the Roads Investment Strategy too.”

Greening measures, from living bridges, wetland management and landscape connectivity, would provide a tangible chance to fix deep-seated environmental problems created by past decisions - maximising the environmental performance and value of the network in the future.

There are places across the road network where areas of woodland, wetland, and grassland could be created to increase the size, or improve the quality, of existing habitat patches or re-establish links between them by creating new wild areas. These habitats could clean run-off, create sound barriers, capture pollution and absorb carbon dioxide. The road side verges themselves can be managed to provide wildlife corridors, which reach into and connect our towns and wider countryside.

The Wildlife Trusts are one of several organisations to back the recent CPRE and Campaign for Better Transport’s 2014 ‘Better not Bigger - why strategic roads need a green retrofit programme’ report and have a wealth of experience in restoring the natural environment.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sue Bishop .

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