We need a vision for new transport projects that protects woods and trees
13,500 of you helped us tell Government to address climate impacts and stop damaging transport schemes to protect all irreplaceable habitats.
Credit: SPK / Alamy Stock Photo
Time and again, new transport infrastructure schemes are designed without enough consideration for irreplaceable ancient woodlands and veteran trees, or the carbon emissions these new projects will generate. From 14 March to 6 June 2023, the Government’s Department for Transport asked for your views on its policy for national networks - roads and rail projects - in England as it reviews how new schemes are planned. This was a huge opportunity to call for policy that better protects our environment and our future. Your responses to the consultation helped tell Government that prioritising transport schemes over nature and climate is not real progress.
The new draft policy effectively says emissions don’t need to be taken into account when deciding whether to approve new schemes.
The road to ruin
We’re regularly forced to defend ancient woods and trees from damaging road schemes. Right now, the Lower Thames Crossing road scheme threatens irreplaceable habitats in Kent and Essex - at least 10 hectares of ancient woodland and 11 veteran trees. It’s expected to have a higher carbon impact than any other road scheme currently planned in England. This is not progress.
It’s just one example of many. Our analysis of schemes supported in Government’s first two road investment strategies - 5-year funding plans for major roads - shows that approximately 40% of major new roads impact irreplaceable habitats. But together we can change this.
Rethinking roads is not out of the question. Wales’ Government has reviewed all road schemes to reduce the climate impact and ensure they are fit for the future.
Current proposals are not progress
We are in the thick of a climate and nature crisis. We need urgent action and real changes to Government’s approach, including its policy for road and rail schemes and how it engages with the communities impacted by plans. New infrastructure simply cannot contribute to further environmental damage and escalating carbon emissions. That's why we asked you to join us in telling Government it must protect woods and trees from the threat transport infrastructure poses.
Real progress will be achieved when Government changes its infrastructure policy. A new approach could help save important woods and trees. It could decide to permanently reduce the damaging emissions associated with roads. Visionary policy now could transform our future.
Thank your for joining us to demand better
Ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees across England are vulnerable to new, ever more damaging schemes that also contribute to climbing carbon emissions. An ambitious national networks policy could protect irreplaceable habitats. A new approach could enable affordable low carbon travel for the people that need it while safeguarding nature.
Your responses were critical in telling Government to see the bigger picture and put the environment, climate, and healthy people first.
Over the coming months the national networks policy will be scrutinised by the Transport Select Committee and we expect a Government response this autumn.