Election 24: Multibillion-pound roads plan delayed

Plans for the next five-year period of road investment have been delayed due to the general election, Construction News can reveal.

A draft of the third road investment strategy (RIS3), outlining which road schemes the government will fund between 2025-2030, was due to be published in late May.

However, in an email seen by CN, the Department for Transport (DfT) told stakeholders that the draft RIS3 will be postponed until after the general election.

“Plans are still in place to deliver a final RIS in 2024, however the details are subject to the views of incoming ministers,” the DfT said in the email.

Once the department publishes the draft RIS3, National Highways will draft a strategic business plan. Transport regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will review the plan’s efficiency.

The DfT will then produce the final version of its strategy, confirming the budget, before the five-year investment period starts on 1 April 2025.

National Highways’ initial report, released last May, indicated the programme would likely focus more on maintaining the existing road network instead of large capital schemes. It also stated it would aim to reduce carbon and better integrate technology into road programmes.

The current investment period was also delayed by a general election. RIS2, which started in April 2020, was thrown into doubt when the 2019 election was called, as the ORR was in the middle of an efficiency review at the time.

Ministers initially allocated £27.4bn for the current investment period, which ends next March. This was reduced to £24bn in the government’s October 2021 spending review.

A 2022 National Audit Office report concluded that National Highways was on track to complete “less work on the RIS2 programme, and at a higher cost than originally planned”.

The DfT was contacted for comment.

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