Economic, Environmental and Social Impact of Changes in Maintenance Spend on Roads in Scotland Summary Report

1 Introduction

1.1 Overview

This report summarises the results of a study to assess the environmental, social and economic impacts of cuts to the roads maintenance budgets for trunk roads and local roads in Scotland. It highlights key aspects of the methodologies adopted before presenting the results and discussing the most significant conclusions.

1.2 Context

Maintaining Scotland's Roads (Audit Scotland, 2011) highlighted that the overall maintenance backlog on roads in Scotland is £2.25 billion. Of this, £1.54 billion relates to the maintenance backlog on Local Authority roads and £0.713 billion relates to trunk roads, including bridges. The report included a central recommendation for the Scottish Government to take forward a national review of "how the road network is managed and maintained, with a view to stimulating service redesign and increasing the pace of examining the potential for shared services."

The Government accepted the central recommendations in the report and announced on 25 February 2011 that a National Road Maintenance Review would be undertaken looking at how the road network in Scotland is managed and maintained.

The Review was taken forward by Transport Scotland in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS) and the Scottish Road Works Commissioner under the guidance of a Steering Group. The Review commenced in March 2011 with a timetable to report to Ministers and Council Leaders in early autumn 2011 in time to inform a Road Maintenance Summit. The Summit was held on 2nd November 2011.

The Steering Group was supported by four Working Groups drawn from Steering Group member organisations as well as invited stakeholders. This study, with associated reports, has been commissioned by Transport Scotland on behalf of the Wider Economic Issues, Impacts, Costs and Benefits Working Group. The Working Group monitored and assessed the work in this study as it progressed.

1.3 Approach

The study approach was to assess and categorise the impacts in accordance with criteria adopted in the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) (Transport Scotland, 2011):

  • Environmental impacts
  • Safety impacts
  • Economic impacts
  • Integration impacts
  • Accessibility and social inclusion impacts

The impacts were considered for three Scenarios over a 20 year analysis period:

  • Scenario 1 (Base Case). Maintain current (2010/11)[1] funding levels for 20 years
  • Scenario 2[2]. Reduce Scenario 1 funding levels by 20% for the first 10 years. Return to Scenario 1 spending levels uniformly over the following five year period, and further increase these by 2.5% per annum for the final five years of the analysis period
  • Scenario 3. Reduce Scenario 1 funding levels by 40% for the first 10 years. Return to Scenario 1 spending levels uniformly over the following five year period, and further increase these by 2.5% per annum for the final five years of the analysis period

Both quantitative and qualitative impacts were considered for the scenarios. Qualitative impacts have been considered against each of the criteria noted above (i.e. environmental, safety etc) and for each criterion, specific sub-criteria have been assessed as shown in Section 4. The following impacts were quantified at 2002 prices[3]:

  • Vehicle operating costs. If road conditions deteriorate, there is a cost to road users (e.g. vehicles consume more fuel and may need more frequent repairs).
  • Travel time costs. If road conditions deteriorate, vehicles generally travel slower but this effect is offset by fewer planned disruptions (due to less maintenance work being carried out) resulting in less delay at roadworks.
  • Accident costs. If road conditions deteriorate, there is an increased risk of accidents due to lower skid resistance. Also, if street lighting is reduced there may be a consequential increase in traffic accidents.
  • CO2 emissions. CO2 changes related to the above impacts can be monetised.

Full details of the study analyses and results for trunk roads and local roads have been reported separately. The work to assess the impacts for trunk roads provided the foundation for the quantitative analysis methodology and a preliminary review of international evidence of work relevant to the study (Transport Scotland, 2012a). The work for local roads extended the review of published international evidence included quantitative analysis of the Scenarios for the local road network (Transport Scotland, 2012b) and aligned the analyses of the trunk road network with the analyses for local roads. This report summarises the key results from both parts of the study.