It is a stance that many transport consultants will know the organisation has already expressed in the past, but it is nonetheless an important stance: the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) has once again urged that a National Transport Strategy for England be put in place. 

The charity, learned society, and membership body has said that while both Scotland and Wales have “coherent” visions and practical strategies for how transport will contribute to strategic challenges identified by politicians currently in power, the same cannot be said for England. 

CIHT said that England’s continued lack of a National Transport Strategy placed it at “great risk of failing to achieve outcomes vital for national wellbeing, such as Levelling Up economic opportunities and Net Zero, to name a few.”

Once again, questions are being asked about implementing a National Transport Strategy

Although – as stated above – CIHT has waxed lyrical on this subject previously, the topic has been brought back onto the agenda by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) having recently launched a consultation on the case for an England-focused National Transport Strategy. 

With CIHT – by its own admission – having “constantly” put forward the idea of a National Transport Strategy in its past statements, the organisation said it looked forward “to working with ICE and other professional colleagues to promote this important idea to the Government.” 

What else did CIHT say about the notion of a National Transport Strategy? 

In its own response to the ICE consultation, CIHT declared itself to be “strongly in favour of a National Transport Strategy for England.” The body elaborated further, expressing its belief that England required an NTS that: 

  • Was “vision-led”, as an NTS represented an opportunity to decisively shift from the long-established “predict and provide” paradigm the organisation said had dominated transport planning for decades, towards a “decide and provide” approach; 
  • Treated the UK’s transport networks as a “System of Systems”. The organisation said that taken together, the country’s strategic and local highway networks, rail, aviation, and ports constituted an “interconnected system of systems”. It went on to say that “a focus on the system of system level can also help rebalance the attention given to the existing networks and new infrastructure”, and stated that “the strategy should establish a clear set of requirements at the SoS level over a 10-20 year period”; 
  • Integrated transport and land use planning, on the basis that “we can no longer afford to develop first and think about transport infrastructure and services later”;
  • Clarified responsibilities, with a framework being established to define roles and coordination mechanisms for national and local government, subnational transport bodies, regulatory and monitoring bodies, and other stakeholders; and 
  • Was accompanied by a pipeline of projects and policy. On this point, CIHT asserted that “the 10-20-year requirements identified in the strategy should be accompanied by a consolidated pipeline of projects and programmes, including maintenance and enhancements.” 

CIHT further added that it was “delighted” to see that many of its key messages – such as the adverse consequences of the absence of a National Transport Strategy for achieving Net Zero, and the importance of such a strategy being “vision-led” – had formed part of the ICE consultation response. 

The organisation’s full response to the ICE consultation can be read on the CIHT website. Doubtless, it will make insightful reading for many transport consultants, including our own team here at Transport Planning Associates (TPA), who can be contacted by those seeking the most innovative and cost-effective consultancy services in relation to transport planning and infrastructure design.