The RHA has said research claiming that road building fails to cut congestion and bring economic benefits, whilst creating higher than expected pollution levels, is misguided.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England looked at the economic and environmental impact of a number of UK road schemes built over the past 20 years with the eschewed aim of cutting congestion, creating jobs and delivering minimal impact on the environment.

The End Of The Road? report looked at 13 road schemes that included bypasses, widening and upgrades to motorway standards. It found the schemes generated more traffic, led to permanent and significant environmental and landscape damage, and showed “little evidence of economic benefit to local economies”.

The report states: “If these schemes were built to reduce congestion, this approach backfired. The road schemes studied did not solve the problems that they were supposed to but ratcheted up traffic levels year on year in a self-perpetuating cycle, by unlocking car-dependent development.

“Not only did this mean that the new roads filled up quickly, the bypassed roads did too in many instances. Worse still, traffic increased on roads feeding into the new roads, creating new pinch-points in the medium-term.”

The report recommended a complete refocusing of the government’s transport strategy using road pricing to fund high frequency public transport, rail schemes, introducing walking and cycling routes and refocusing Highways England to manage demand on the road network and protect the surrounding environments. It also calls for road capacity to be increased as a last resort only.

Ralph Smyth, CPRE head of infrastructure, said: “This landmark research shows that any benefits from road building are far smaller than thought but the harm much worse. The Road Investment Strategy needs to be reset – not receive three times more funding."

RHA called the report “misguided”. Chief executive Richard Burnett warned that “limiting our infrastructure's ability to meet demand will result in more delays, more congestion, more pollution and unnecessary waste”.