The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is increasing its scrutiny of future road funding for the strategic road network as plans are drawn up for the third road investment strategy (RIS3).
As National Highways’ independent monitor, ORR has set out its proposed approach in its consultation on the development of RIS3 and how it will assess its efficiency and deliverability.
It says this will ensure ORR provides high-quality advice on the setting of the RIS to the Secretary of State for Transport on what can be expected to be achieved with the funding identified.
RIS3 will set out the Government’s long-term strategy for the maintenance and improvement of the strategic road network – motorways and major A roads – in England, and National Highways will set out its plans as to how it will deliver the Government’s requirements in this period.
Planning has already begun for the next funding period which will begin in April 2025 and run until March 2030.
Earlier this month, the Department for Transport (DfT) set out the process that will be followed to prepare and plan for RIS3.
John Larkinson, ORR’s chief executive, said: “ORR plays an important role in the development of road investment strategies, working across the industry to ensure a range of views are considered to provide advice to the Secretary of State for Transport.
“Taking on the views across industry strengthens our assessments and our proposed approach to evaluating the challenge and deliverability of the next RIS, ensuring ORR’s oversight and scrutiny leads to better outcomes for road users, the environment and taxpayers.”
ORR’s proposals in its consultation include a greater focus on the quality of National Highways' plans for how it will maintain and renew the road network for users and how it will meet the challenge of an ageing network.
ORR also wants National Highways to pay particular attention to ensuring that the efficiencies achieved in the first two road periods are reflected in its cost estimates. ORR proposes to increase its scrutiny of how risks to the delivery of road improvement projects are assessed.
ORR’s proposals seek to strengthen ORR’s advice on the RIS and reflect the need for the RIS development process to provide a clearly defined baseline of what road users can expect from the strategic road network, and against which ORR can monitor National Highways’ performance and efficiency in the third road period.
The consultation runs from December 9, 2021 until January 28, 2022.