Government in court over climate commitments and £27bn road building plan

Tue 29 June 2021 View all news

The Government has been taken to court by the Transport Action Network (TAN) which argues that plans for a £27bn road building programme that were set out last year do not take into account the obligations to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or the UK's commitments under the Paris climate Agreement.

TAN, which describes the proceedings as the “biggest legal challenge to transport policy in British history" accuses the Government of unlawfully failing to take into account the “obviously material” impact of the roads programme on the UK’s climate commitments.

Reported by The Guardian,  Chris Todd, director of TAN said: “If we are serious about tackling the climate emergency, improving quality of life after the pandemic and delivering a less congested future, we need to reduce traffic … A ruling to quash the largest ever roads programme would be historic, not just for the UK, but for communities worldwide seeking to build back better in the run up to COP26.”

Representing the Government, John Litton QC, for the Department for Transport, said the Government had given “full and proper regard to the environment when setting RIS2, including to climate change-related impacts … and carbon emissions in particular, consistent with the Government’s climate change responsibilities.”

He said there was no commitment to reach “zero carbon” in every sector of the economy, that some parts would still emit carbon but would be offset by “sinks” like tree planting or carbon capture technology.

Earlier this month the Welsh government announced a freeze on its future road building as part of its plans to tackle the climate emergency

The case at the high court has concluded with judgment expected to be given at a later date.

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