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Better roads

Suspended circular cycle bridge, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Suspended circular cycle bridge, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Photo: © The Environmental Blog

Rather than build bigger roads to make room for more traffic, CPRE believes that the Government should be looking to make our existing roads better.

We could do this through a ‘green retrofit’ programme, investing in measures such as safe crossings for wildlife and screening of existing roads.

This would help improve the poor environmental standards of our motorways and trunk roads – particularly in comparison with other countries – and reduce the impact of our road network, without expanding capacity and increasing traffic.

What could be achieved?

Much of England’s road network was built with little regard to reducing its effects on the environment and the communities through which it runs.

By creating a programme committed to bringing older roads up to modern standards, many of the negative side effects of roads could be tackled, including:

  • noise, air and water pollution
  • landscape and visual disruption
  • wildlife and biodiversity impacts
  • risk of injury, especially for vulnerable road users

If we don’t bring the road network up to higher standards it will be that much harder for the UK to meet its legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 80% by 2050, which would give us a better chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.


percentage change in carbon emissions from road traffic 1990 2040 522x261px

Source: Department for Transport


To make our call for better roads rather than bigger ones, CPRE jointly produced the Better not bigger report, which helped secure £300 million funding from Government to start a green retrofit of the network.

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