Stop Government driving up emissions & wrecking our countryside (A66)

by Chris from Transport Action Network

Stop Government driving up emissions & wrecking our countryside (A66)

by Chris from Transport Action Network
Chris from Transport Action Network
Case Owner
We support local communities seeking better and more sustainable travel solutions. We also help people campaign against active travel and public transport cuts and oppose damaging road schemes
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Chris from Transport Action Network
Case Owner
We support local communities seeking better and more sustainable travel solutions. We also help people campaign against active travel and public transport cuts and oppose damaging road schemes
Pledge now

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Latest: June 3, 2024

Good news - we have a date!

We’ve just had some good news. We’ve been informed that we will have a hearing on 23 October. This will be at the High Court in London and will hopefully allow us to take our challenge to…

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Help stop the road to climate chaos and countryside ruin

Despite its enormous environmental and climate impact, the Government has just approved the £1.5 billion A66 mega-road scheme through nationally important countryside, increasing carbon by 2.7 million tonnes.

Domestic transport (primarily road transport) accounted for 28% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2022, making it the largest emitting sector in the UK. Instead of taking positive decisions for our future, this Government is stuck on repeat and is holding back progress. It is also going back on its promises to be a world leader on environmental protection. 

Please help us stop this hugely damaging road by contributing to our legal challenge.



It makes no economic sense

Rishi Sunak’s Government has made bold claims but has done little to actually improve transport across the country. Drivers have to put up with pothole ridden roads and hope they don’t damage their cars. Bus services have been cut back, making life incredibly difficult for people who rely on them. 

This £1.5bn road scheme will only recoup 92p for every £1 spent, so the country can wave goodbye to yet more taxpayers' money.

Instead of prioritising the things that will make a huge difference to everyone, such as road maintenance and reliable, affordable public transport, the Government is trying to bulldoze through damaging and expensive road schemes. These make no economic sense and do little to address congestion. In fact they can even make things worse, while costing us the earth. 



Making the climate crisis worse

The A66 is one of the biggest carbon emitting schemes in the Government’s roads programme (RIS2).

It will drive up emissions by 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. 

This will make it harder for the Government to meet its international obligations and for Zero Carbon Cumbria to meet local targets. It will increase transport emissions in Cumbria by 4%.

This makes no sense at a time when we are experiencing more severe weather events, such as extremes of temperature and heavy prolonged rain, which lead to route closures, flooding and cause our roads to crumble even faster. 



Stop destroying our countryside

This road scheme damages the North Pennines National Landscape (the new name for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and threatens two internationally important wildlife areas, the River Eden Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the North Pennine Moors SAC and Special Protection Area (SPA). It harms precious peat bogs, and wildlife habitats for red squirrels. 

It would see 18,000 trees chopped down, covering an area of 53 football pitches! 

There is huge concern about the Government’s commitment to protecting the environment, despite enacting new laws on this issue. When it effectively ignores its own duty to protect and enhance our most precious landscapes and wildlife sites then we know we’re in trouble. That’s what has happened here, where the ‘need’ for the road (because the Government says so - sound familiar?) trumps all else.



Putting more lorries on the road

Currently, 25% of vehicles using the A66 are HGVs. Rather than shifting long distance freight to and from Scotland and Northern Ireland onto rail, the Government wants to increase HGVs on the A66. This will undermine safety improvements from the new road. 

By increasing traffic, it will also make it harder for Transport for the North to meet its target (in its recently published Transport Strategy) to stabilise road traffic at 2019 levels.



Tackle safety now and more cheaply

Safety is clearly important for users of the road and local communities. However, it should not be used by National Highways as justification to push through a damaging road when there are quicker and cheaper safety measures that could be implemented to reduce deaths and injuries. Especially as encouraging more HGVs onto the A66 will reduce road safety, whether dualled or not.

The economic case for the road is poor and it will impact negatively on the North Pennines and international wildlife sites. Therefore, the Government can only approve the road if there is overriding public interest. 

Yet safety was not stated as the main reason for the scheme when it was first promoted in 2016.  

It was justified then on the basis that it would increase HGV traffic. Even if construction of the road started today, any improvements in safety will be several years away. Safety measures could - and should - be implemented now for a fraction of the cost!

Who we are

We are the only national environmental organisation that is actively challenging damaging new roads. Despite our small size, we have previously taken legal action against the Government’s roads programme (RIS2) and successfully forced it to review its national roads policy. We are currently challenging it in the courts over cuts to active travel funding.

How we’re doing this

Our solicitors are Leigh Day who we’ve used for our previous legal challenges, and our barristers specialise in climate and nature cases. They have kindly agreed to work for us at a hugely discounted rate. Our initial target is just to cover our initial costs, but we need to raise around £50,000 in total, although this might rise if we have to appeal. This is to cover lawyers’ costs, court fees and the risk of having to pay some of the DfT’s costs if we lose. Fortunately, we have already secured £17,000 of funding, leaving a total of around £33,000 to raise on CrowdJustice. This might reduce if we are successful in raising further funding from elsewhere.

Any surplus funds will be used to cover our wider costs for this case or any potential appeal, and to support our roads campaigning including helping grassroots road campaigns.

What’s next?

We’ve filed our claim with the High Court. The Department for Transport will now file a defence and the court will then decide whether to grant us permission to proceed. If they grant permission, we will then have a full court hearing to discuss the merits of our case.

Thank you for reading this – please consider helping with a donation and sharing this with others.

Photo credits: Dave Hughes, TAN, Shutterstock.com

Update 1

Chris from Transport Action Network

June 3, 2024

Good news - we have a date!

We’ve just had some good news. We’ve been informed that we will have a hearing on 23 October. This will be at the High Court in London and will hopefully allow us to take our challenge to the next stage.

Being in October it gives us time to prepare our case, but while we’ve had a great response to our crowdfunder so far, we still need to raise another £10,000 or so. So please continue to share this page when you can.

Many thanks,

Chris, Nisha, Becca and all at TAN

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