Chancellor George Osborne and Budget case
Motorway widening and a tunnel under the Pennines were among road-building plans in Chancellor George Osborne's Budget. Credit: Crown Copyright

Cycling UK concern over Chancellor’s road-building Budget

Cycling UK has reacted with dismay to today’s Budget as Chancellor George Osborne announced more road-building plans and another freeze on fuel duty. Cycling UK Policy Director, Roger Geffen MBE, declared: “We want to get more people cycling, not driving.”

In his Budget statement, the Chancellor announced he was finding new money to create a four-lane M62 and will develop the case for an 18-mile road tunnel under the Pennines to link Manchester and Sheffield, reportedly costing £6billion.

As part of Government plans to build a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ there will also be upgrades to the A66 and A69 – while fuel duty across the country will be frozen at 57.95p per litre for the sixth year in a row.

Britain has illegal pollution levels, an obesity time-bomb and a climate change strategy which is officially failing. Yet the Chancellor responds by squandering squillions on road schemes.”

Roger Geffen MBE, Cycling UK Policy Director

Cycling UK's Geffen said: “Britain has illegal pollution levels, an obesity time-bomb and a climate change strategy which is officially failing. Yet the Chancellor responds by squandering squillions on road schemes, ignoring all the warnings from experts about the lack of clear economic benefits.

“Meanwhile, walking and cycling remain cash-starved, despite mountains of evidence that they are incredibly cost-effective investments.

“His cabinet colleagues need to remind him that he’s supposed to be part of the ‘greenest Government ever’ and urge him to reallocate some of the £15billion earmarked for road-building to invest instead in walking and cycling.  That would be far better for our economy, our streets, our environment and our quality of life.”

Parliament’s commitment to adopt a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy this year only came about thanks to campaigning by Cycling UK and its allies.

However the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last November provided just £300million for cycling over the next five years, compared with £15bn for road-building.

This amounts to a derisory £1.39 per person annually, compared with the minimum of £10 per person, rising to £20, called for in the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report.

Tony Upfold