The influential Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has urged Governments across the UK to spend cash earmarked for road building on improving broadband instead.
Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said this was one step Ministers could take ‘urgently’ to ensure a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking during a virtual net zero event hosted by the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum on May 12, he said: “We can immediately start improving at a faster rate our broadband, because we know this is an essential part of connectivity today.
“Why not use some of the money we had put aside for a road building programme to do that? We know our road building programme has got to be re-thought.”
Last week, the committee wrote to the Prime Minister and First Ministers in Scotland and Wales to push them to take this course of action, and Lord Deben said it had appeared to bear fruit when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps promised to look again at his £28bn road building programme.
The Government’s plans for road building assume 1 per cent growth a year in demand for travel, but with working from home expected to become more prevalent after the pandemic, doubts have been cast over whether this is a realistic estimate.
“We do not have enough money yet, only a promise to look at the roadbuilding programme, but it does show we are beginning to get people to recognise these are the steps which have to be taken,” Lord Deben said.
The Government has since announced £1.7m will be spent on improving local roads and filling millions of potholes.