Somerset gets good deal on roads

Today government announced that some £800m from the cancelled HS2 project will be redirected to roads in the south west. The funding will come in three chunks.

  • An uplift to the spend allocated for 2023/24
  • An uplift to proposed spending for 2024/25
  • A new allocation of funding for 2023/24 to 2033/34

Somerset for once will get a relatively generous settlement. Similar sized counties such as Gloucester and Wiltshire get £87m and £81m for the decade to 2033/34. However Somerset and Cornwall have each been allocated £111m (albeit Devon is the big winner with a £208m allocation).

This £800 million boost for the South West is likely to be welcomed by road users. According to a survey by the AA, fixing potholes and investing in roads maintenance is a priority for 96% of drivers.

That of course does not address the fact that most regions have a target to be carbon neutral by 2030. Investing in building more and better roads does not immediately seem compatible with our climate change commitments.

The asphalt industry though does not see a contradiction. Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, says:“This long-term investment will also help give the asphalt supply chain confidence to further invest in plant upgrades, materials innovation and technical advancements to support the development and delivery of lower carbon roads, in line with the Government’s net zero ambitions.” What exactly low carbon roads are remains to be seen.

Uplifts to existing road budgets in Somerset will amount to £3.546 million in each of 2023/24 and 2024/25.

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