Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Next steps for England’s strategic and major road networks - investment, improvements and modernisation, and supporting both decarbonisation and economic recovery

Morning, Monday, 14th December 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will be an opportunity to assess the next steps for England’s road network, as well as next steps for smart highways and the long-term policy priorities for network development.

With keynote contributions from Jim O’Sullivan, Chief Executive, Highways England; and Feras Alshaker, Deputy Director, Highways, Office of Rail and Road, the discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from DfT; DIT; the ORR and the Welsh Government.

The discussion in detail:

  • RIS2 and developing England’s SRN:
    • connectivity - between key motorway and A roads, rail and airports and further intermodal links, urban areas and other centres of business, commercial activity and employment
    • economic contribution - supporting the levelling up policy agenda and helping improve efficiency for commerce, trade and the movement of freight
    • future proofing - assessing and factoring in future capacity pressures and changes in user demands, and strategies for reducing interruptions and enabling quicker journeys
    • planning and construction - increasing collaboration to reduce costs, stable project delivery timelines, and maximising the use of existing assets to reduce modernisation requirements
    • securing further benefits - safety improvements and taxpayer value 
  • the Major Road Network (MRN) - supporting communities and local users, and national economic recovery
    • levelling up - priorities targeted improvements to the MRN, including how the network of roads and highways supports local and community transport and connections to the wider SRN
    • economic recovery - the role of the MRN in local economic development, and tackling regional infrastructure deficiencies, as the Government develops its post-pandemic economic strategy
    • local road reliability - strategies for growing cooperation between local government and highway authorities in addressing road quality issues
    • access - increasing connections between communities, the MRN, and the wider SRN grid
    • coordinating policy and stakeholder involvement - coupling MRN objectives with accelerating local growth, and engagement with local supply chains and businesses
    • improving project accountability - while reducing risk of delays and disruption
    • local public transport - priorities for bus lane road improvements, enhancing intermodal connectivity with the rail network, and use of the Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund
    • roles and next steps - for policymakers and the wider infrastructure sector 
  • decarbonisation
    • preparing the network - infrastructure to meet new transport needs, and addressing delivery challenges, in the context of Government’s vision for a decarbonised road network
    • smart highways:
      • low-carbon transition - the role of smart highways in the Government’s net zero agenda, and strategies for reducing congestion and idling
      • safety issues - latest developments in smart detection and signalling technology, and options for restoring permanent hard shoulders and installing new emergency areas on motorways
    • electric and low-carbon vehicles:
      • tackling physical challenges for expansion across England’s road network - scaling up charge point rollout, and working with industry to reduce technology and installation costs
      • cooperation - coordination between electricity network operators, highway authorities, and local government
      • increasing regional capacity - rural and suburban charging expansion
    • active travel:
      • preparing local and national road networks - spatial design priorities for new public and cycling travel infrastructure
      • managing competing priorities - steps for balancing vehicle user needs with the transition to greater pedestrian access
      • quality - latest thinking on setting standards for local authorities and developers

A scan of relevant developments:

  • Road Investment Strategy 2: 2020–2025 (RIS2) - from DfT and Highways England, with plans for £27.4bn in long-term road network investment and management - including:
    • delivery of new physical road infrastructure
    • maintenance and upgrading of existing assets
    • ensuring the system is prepared for new and emerging challenges, such as the wider adoption of electric and autonomous vehicles
  • the Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund - £1.7bn for improving roads and road safety, priority bus lanes, repairing bridges, and filling in potholes
  • Strategic roads update: smart motorways evidence stocktake - the Government’s proposed measures for securing safe smart motorways
  • Highways England: Strategic Business Plan 2020-2025 - for road project development as part of RIS2’s allocated funding, and for developing England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN)
  • PM launches review to boost connections across the UK - looking into improving connectivity across the UK’s nations and regions, and the potential economic and employment benefits
  • decarbonisation - the Government outlining its vision for a decarbonised road network and changes to its use - which follows key policy initiatives, including:
    • Reducing emissions from road transport: Road to Zero Strategy - the policy, investment, and infrastructure priorities required for transitioning to total zero emission vehicles by 2040
    • Government vision for the rapid charge point network in England ­- with the Rapid Charging Fund announced in Budget 2020 as part of £500m for EV charging infrastructure
    • Gear Change A bold vision for cycling and walking - with £2bn for walking and cycling infrastructure development
  • Managing pavement parking - consultation on rule changes aimed at supporting active travel and disabled pedestrians, and for greater enforcement powers for local authorities
  • New Station Guidance - from Network Rail and Highways England on developing local rail and road transport system links, aimed at relieving pressure on the SRN and improving local access

The agenda:

  • England’s road network in the context of RIS2 - connectivity, efficiency, and wider economic benefits
  • RIS2 and optimising road network improvements, and next steps for developing the Strategic Road Network (SRN)
    • Funding a safer road system and improving reliability for users
    • Involving local supply chains in regional road projects and opportunities for infrastructure-led economic recovery
    • Maximising the economic impact of the SRN - access to intermodal transport, and providing the connectivity needed for businesses, communities and households
    • Tackling legal and regulatory hurdles for road projects and infrastructure development in the UK
  • Delivering physical road upgrade projects in England and strategies for overcoming engineering challenges
  • The levelling up policy agenda and increasing connectivity between key regions
  • The future of smart motorways in England - innovation, safety and relieving congestion
  • Next steps the Major Road Network and local road modernisation - improving local access and reliability, tackling potholes and road quality, and meeting changing needs for public transport
  • Preparing the road network for decarbonisation by 2050 - scaling up low-carbon transport infrastructure, EV charging readiness, and options for active travel
  • A long-term plan for road network in England - priorities for enabling expansion and supporting economic recovery

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords, and officials from the Department of Transport; the Department for International Trade; the Office of Rail and Road and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with a wide range of stakeholders from road and highway maintenance groups, construction and engineering firms, infrastructure developers and investment groups, road vehicle stakeholders, legal and consultancy firms, environmental bodies, local authorities, passenger groups, academics and commentators, as well as reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Feras Alshaker

Deputy Director, Highways, Office of Rail and Road

Keynote Speakers

Anthony Smith

Chief Executive, Transport Focus

Jim O’Sullivan

Chief Executive, Highways England

David Ogden

Business Director, Highways, Amey

Steve Gooding

Director, RAC Foundation

Feras Alshaker

Deputy Director, Highways, Office of Rail and Road

Silviya Barrett

Head of Policy, Research and Projects, Campaign for Better Transport

Philippa Oldham

Stakeholder Engagement Director, Advanced Propulsion Centre


Karl McCartney MP

Member, Transport Select Committee


Pam Turton

Assistant Director, Transport, Portsmouth City Council

Deborah Sims

Senior Vice President, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation

Adrian Kemp

Director, WSP

Owen Wilson

Major Roads Strategy Manager, Transport for the North

Paula McGeady

Director, Planning and Compulsory Purchase, Burges Salmon

Duncan Buchanan

Director, Policy, Road Haulage Association