London, 6 Jun 2002.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Darling's First Gaffe
In a gaffe worthy of his ill-fated predecessor, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has pronounced that
"Britain isn't big enough for us to be pouring more and more concrete over its green and pleasant land."
Mr Darling would be well advised to establish the facts relating to his new job before making such pronouncements.

Firstly, concrete is no longer regarded as a suitable material for road building due to its poor surface quality and increased noise levels. Tarmac is the prefered material - somewhat worrying that our new Transport Secretary hasn't even noticed this whilst driving around the country.

Secondly, pro-rata, Britain has far fewer motorways than nearly all other European countries, and none of those countries are even remotely 'covered in tarmac'. For example, in relation to its land area, the Netherlands has four times as much motorway as Britain, and it is certainly not 'covered in tarmac' A comparison of motorways across Europe shows the UK to be the third worst in terms of motorway per person, and sixth worse in terms of motorway per area. No wonder our motorways are congested!

The myth about motorways covering the country in tarmac is hysterical scaremongering spread by anti-car campaigners who would be delighted to see the UK as a third world country in terms of transport.

The reality is very different and is best illustrated by a book called "England The Photographic Atlas". Published by Getmapping this uses aerial photographs from a millenium project to create a photomosiac of the entire country. The immediate impression that the book gives is that England is still very much a green and pleasant land. Turn to any page and the overwhelmingly dominant colour is green. Even in cities, the combination of parkland, gardens, roadside verges, and trees result in a distinctly green tinge.

Aerial photographs reveal how the width of a motorway is far less than the width of the average field. In fact you could put half a dozen motorways across most fields and still leave room for bunny rabbits to hop about.

ABD Roads & Traffic spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie commented:

"We wonder if those who claim the country is being 'covered in tarmac' are looking at small scale maps of large areas on which the width of roads is grossly exaggerated to make them obvious. On a 1:1,000,000 scale wall map of the UK, a motorway may be shown as being 1mm wide. This equates to 1km, when in reality motorways are only about 32m wide - 1/30 of their apparent width on a map. Surely no-one could believe that thick lines on a small map represent real tarmac on the ground?"
ABD Environment spokesman Bernard Abrams said:
"Many people have a gross mis-conception of the impact of roads on the environment due to anti-road propaganda from environmental groups, and the fact that they only look at the road, not at the much larger green fields either side of it. In reality the impact of roads is minimal. Most of our motorways have been in existence for decades - the suggestion that they have 'destroyed' the countryside through which they pass is nothing but hysterical ranting.

A three year study by the University of Surrey on the environmental impact of the Newbury Bypass has shown that it has actually protected the environment.

Birds of prey are often to be seen hovering over motorway embankments. This indicates that the embankments serve as a nature reserve and provide an excellent hunting ground as they are rarely if ever disturbed. They are the modern day equivalent of hedgerows."

The UK motorway network suffers from chronic congestion because successive governments have utterly failed to build enough new roads to match traffic demand. Between 1976 and 1996, UK motorway length increased by only 50%, whilst traffic using motorways increased by 128%. The CBI have stated that £10 billion is needed just to to get the backlog of road repairs and building cleared. Rather than admit this failure, the government constantly tries to lay the blame on drivers for daring to want to drive from A to B.

The blindingly obvious solution to eliminate congestion on motorways and trunk routes is to build more roads, and stop throttling the country's economy by maliciously constricting roads, and penalizing drivers in every conceivable way.

The ABD calls on the government to immediately bring the UK's motorway network up to at least average European standard by implementing a massive expansion programme.
Our motorway network needs to be at least doubled in size. All motorways must be free from tolls - whether toll booths or electronic spying systems.

The ABD has initial proposals for 1740 miles of new motorways, including:

Further details of these and other routes, including a map, may be seen on our website. Here

In addition many improvements need to be made to existing trunk roads in the form of upgrades to dual carriageway, graded junctions, and bypasses. An extensive list can be seen on our website.


Notes for Editors

For more details on the subject of this press release, including graphs, an aerial photo, and map of new motorways, see
Our Green and Pleasant Land

For a list of bypasses and other road improvemnets, see
Britain's Baulked Bypasses