Friends of the Earth calls for Highways Agency to be scrapped

13th October 2019
  • Environmental organisation calls for scrapping of Highways England, and for it to be replaced with an agency that looks at transport in the round

Manchester Friends of the Earth has joined the call for Highways England to be scrapped and to replaced with an agency that looks at transport in the round.

Research published by Friends of the Earth highlighted that for the UK to deliver on its new net zero greenhouse gas target, a 20% reduction in car travel needs to be a reality in the next 11 years. The research also indicated that the scale of the challenge has increased because the Department for Transport (DfT) has side-lined climate change and presided over a 10% increase in greenhouse gases from the sector since 1990. [1] 

The Government is championing dinosaur roads to be built across the country. Transport is the country’s biggest source of climate-wrecking emissions, but the Department for Transport has gone completely rogue on climate; making little effort to reduce emissions or invest in alternatives to the car such as affordable train travel and safe cycling routes.  

Catherine Thomson from Manchester Friends of the Earth said: “The Department for Transport has gone rogue on climate change and has presided over increasing climate-wrecking emissions. Its fixation with aviation expansion and road building needs to end.”

However, speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Sajid Javid (Chancellor of the Exchequer) announced an additional £25 billion for road-building projects. [2] 

Some £5.4 billion of the funding is already allocated for an extension to the M60 and M62 near Bolton [3] and may help to fund the £477 million motorway link through the Goyt valley in Stockport.

Catherine Thomson added: “We can start by scrapping Highways England. It’s not fit for purpose, and needs to be replaced with an agency that looks at transport in the round. We need to have proposals for the best ways for people to get from A to B, instead of just defaulting to roads.”  


Notes for Editors

[1] See

See also ‘The transport policies needed to cut carbon emissions in the UK‘ a series of research papers on the transport policies that are needed to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

[2] See Government announces £25bn of road upgrades to improve infrastructure and boost economy   


[4] Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.