An environmental campaign group is planning a legal challenge to the government’s £28.8bn roads programme on the grounds that it breaches UK climate and environment laws.

Campaign group Transport Action Network is warning that the DfT’s latest five-year Road Investment Strategy, due to be published in April, does not take into account recent government commitments on reducing carbon emissions.

The warning follows the successful legal challenge to Heathrow Airport's expansion plans, which saw the Appeal Court rule that the plans breached government climate and environmental commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

The Transport Action Network is arguing that the national road programme’s planning framework is outdated and breaches current climate commitments.

In a statement it said: “The National Networks National Policy Statement (NNNPS), which is the over-arching planning policy framework for the development of nationally significant road schemes, was written prior to the Paris Agreement and the Government’s new target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – exactly the same criticism that was accepted by the Court of Appeal in the Heathrow case.

“While the NNNPS acknowledges the benefits of shifting traffic from road to rail and other sustainable modes, it then does little to deter increasing road traffic and emissions.”

It added: “We think the NNNPS is challengeable on the same grounds as Heathrow. We were already seeking legal advice prior to the Heathrow decision, and this highly significant ruling has simply increased the urgency and clarified the issues.”

The campaign group also calls for the national policy statement for road transport to be brought up to date to “acknowledge and uphold the latest developments in climate policy and law”.

A DfT spokesman said: "We take our commitment to carbon targets immensely seriously and have one of the world's most ambitious plans for reducing carbon emissions. We have developed our roads strategy alongside this.

"We're also working hard to reduce the environmental impact of cars on our roads, with our ambitious plans to encourage the uptake of battery electric vehicles resulting in one sold every 15 minutes last year."