Road resilience in adverse weather14 Sep 2020

Letter to the ORR

The RAC Foundation is asking the roads regulator to ensure that Highways England is doing all that it can to protect its network from the impacts of extreme weather.

In a letter to the Office of Rail and Road the Foundation’s director Steve Gooding asks whether – in the face of a seemingly-growing number of extreme weather events – now is the time to revisit the recommendations made in Richard Brown’s 2014 report for government on transport resilience and “question whether they went far enough?”.

While there has rightly been a great deal of recent attention on the Stonehaven rail tragedy where three people were killed following a landslip there is risk that the threats posed to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) are not as well understood.

Mr Gooding says that, “historically, weather-related problems are at their worst during winter and have often been associated with snow – indeed David Quarmby, a former chair of the RAC Foundation, headed a government-sponsored inquiry into the impact of icy conditions on the wider road network during the cold winter of 2009-10.

“However, rain and flash flooding also pose a risk to the SRN. Such events appear – anecdotally at least – to be rising in frequency and severity, and can no longer be regarded as seasonal; witness the closure of the M25 between junctions 6-8 on August 13 this year.”

He continues:

“Whilst the recently-published Highways England Delivery Plan 2020-25 is clear about the potential impact of flooding and sets out mitigation measures… we think this is an area that warrants application of the ORR investigative eye.”

The letter was addressed to Professor Stephen Glaister, a non-executive director of the ORR and currently the chair of its highways committee.



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

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Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

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