UK: Road Proposals Leave Funding Questions Unanswered

Last Updated: 30 September 2013
Article by Angus Walker

The Government's proposals for roads reform last month outline a clear route ahead for the status of the Highways Agency, but leave open the question of the future funding of highways, says Angus Walker

In July, the Government published Action for Roads: A network for the 21st century, following on from the spending round in June, which promised a new era of road building. Action for Roads had been eagerly awaited for its proposals for the future of the Highways Agency and road tolling, so did it meet expectations?

The Highways Agency looks after the maintenance and development of the strategic road network of motorways and principal A-roads, which makes up only 2% of all roads in terms of length, but carries a third of all car journeys and two-thirds of all lorry journeys.

The Highways Agency is currently effectively part of the Department for Transport. In the foreword to Action for Roads, Secretary of State Patrick McLaughlin says "we will reform the Highways Agency, giving it the flexibility and the vision it needs to be the world's leading highways operator". This ambition can be traced back to the report of Alan Cook in November 2011, who was tasked with suggesting a fresh start for the strategic road network.

The details are that the Government wants the agency to become a publicly-owned corporation. This will make it slightly different from Network Rail, the latter being a private company limited by guarantee (so not owned by anyone as such). The new corporation will, from 2015, move from annual funding to a series of five-year plans (called the Road Investment Strategy), similar to Network Rail with its five-year "control periods".

The Government will consult on these proposals later this year, and bring the reforms in through legislation in 2014.

The final form of the agency is still open to debate, however, as the document says: "We will also continue to examine the case for potential further reform, to see whether new arrangements could improve the transparency and accountability of the Highways Agency".

The document suggests three possible models for this final form. The first is a contractual model, where a private operator has a design, build, finance and operate contract with the agency. This happens at the moment, on the M25 for example, but not everywhere.

The second possibility is a regulated utility model, like the water industry and others. In that case the network is divided into geographical regions each with a private company running it, and a regulator oversees pricing and performance.

Finally there is the trust model, where responsibility for operating, maintaining and developing the infrastructure is given to an independent company without shareholders or owners, which is responsible for looking after the network on behalf of its users. The document gives the Canadian air traffic control company as an example of this, but this isn't too far from Network Rail, in fact.

Those are the governance proposals, but how will the performance of the new-look Highways Agency be measured? The agency recently acquired a performance specification, published in April this year. As a hint to future performance standards, it has been asked to divide the strategic road network into managed motorway links; uncongested rural motorway links; congested rural motorway links; urban motorway links; and all-purpose trunk road links. (A link is a section of road between two junctions.) The agency will be set performance targets for these road types from 2015-16.

So much for what Action for Roads says about the future of the Highways Agency, but what about the other main topic of interest for highway policy: will there be tolling? Unfortunately, the document is silent on this pressing issue. Though the document promises the publication of a long-term strategy for ultra-low emission vehicles later this year, it does not look as though the knock-on effect on government income will be dealt with at the same time.

The only proposal on the table for a tolled road that is not a tunnel, bridge or the M6 Toll is for a section of the A14 near Cambridge, to be tolled as part of an upgrade. This is mentioned in Action for Roads but not in relation to tolling; it was, however, confirmed as part of the infrastructure spending announcements a month earlier, in a brief mention on page 74 of Investing in Britain's Future, published by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

The issue of future revenue-raising from road users is an important one, as more cars are likely to be hybrid or electric – with government encouragement – and income from taxes on petrol will drop further and further as a consequence. The Government must either come up with an alternative or expect highway costs to be met from the remainder of general taxation. If the government raises vehicle excise duty for hybrid and electric cars it will discourage them, but if it introduces widespread tolling, petrol vehicles will be charged twice. It is a tricky issue to deal with but is one that is becoming increasingly urgent.

This article was originally published in Transport Times.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Angus Walker
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.