Cost of Britain's road-building projects soars by almost £4bn
Saturday 16 August 2008
Britain's road-building programme will cost the taxpayer billions of pounds more than expected, with some major projects more than doubling in price in five years, research indicates.
Figures compiled by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) pressure group showed that 41 road projects which had been calculated to cost £4.45bn will now cost taxpayers £8.12bn – a rise of almost 83 per cent.
Critics blame the Highways Agency, maintaining that at the time the projects were approved it made major errors in its calculation of inflation and the likely costs of materials, labour and compensation for homeowners. The study revealed that improvements to one stretch of the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton in Cambridgeshire had risen from an estimated £490m in 2003 to £1.2bn.
Even the most conservative costing predicts that improvements to a stretch of the A46 between Newark and Widmerpool, in Nottinghamshire, will run to more than three times the original costing of £82m.
The Highways Agency is criticised for basing its inflation predictions on the retail price index, which tracks the prices of household items, at a time when high global demand for building materials means inflation in the construction industry is much higher.
The CBT said the agency had also been "wildly optimistic" in its predictions of the level of opposition to road schemes, which has delayed several projects.
A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: "Inflation in the construction industry has approximately doubled in recent years. This is the main reason for the change in cost estimates," and added: "We have made significant improvements to the way we estimate the costs of planned road schemes."
Green campaigners said the rising costs have undermined the argument that roads are a cost-effective way of meeting transport needs. Richard George, the CBT's roads and climate campaigner, said the argument given for building roads was that they are the "cheap option", but added: "It would be much harder to make a case for these road projects using the bill they have left us with now."
Norman Baker, the transport spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "If the estimates had been anywhere near the latest revised figure it is questionable whether the schemes would have got the go-ahead." Headded: "It is very convenient for the Government that these wildly inaccurate cost estimates happened to be low enough to get the road schemes to pass the benefit-cost analysis."
He called for greater investment in the rail network "before even more taxpayers' money is thrown down the drain".
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...