LGA: Number of extra cars in past decade would cover entire British coastline

More than 3.6 million additional cars were licensed between 2009 and 2019, according to latest figures for Great Britain from the Department for Transport - an increase in overall licensed cars of 13 per cent.


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The number of additional cars being driven in the past decade would cover the length of Britain’s coastline, heaping pressure on our roads and driving home the need for greater investment in our transport network, the Local Government Association says today.

More than 3.6 million additional cars were licensed between 2009 and 2019, according to latest figures for Great Britain from the Department for Transport - an increase in overall licensed cars of 13 per cent.

If the number of additional cars were lined up next to one another, it would amount to more than 11,000 miles, the equivalent to the entire British coastline.

The LGA says this massive increase in cars and traffic on our roads is contributing to worsening road conditions, poor air quality, congestion and carbon emissions.

The number of vehicle miles travelled on council roads each year increased by 3.3 per cent between 2009 and 2017. During the same period, annual local authority expenditure on highways and road maintenance fell by 32 per cent as a result of funding cuts and unprecedented demand for other council services, such as adult and children’s social care.

The Government spends 43 times more per mile on maintaining the strategic roads network than the local roads network, and it would take more than £9 billion and 10 years to tackle our backlog of repairs on local roads.

As part of its Budget submission the LGA is calling for government to reinvest 2p of existing fuel duty, worth around £1 billion a year, in local roads maintenance to help tackle this backlog. 

The LGA is also concerned that transport funding is divided up into multiple cash pots, with 11 different ways of allocating money for roads alone, each with different rules, timescales and allocations processes.

The LGA says a far better approach would be to provide councils with stable, devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets – ensuring a funding allocation in advance for five years, which would enable them to deliver infrastructure improvements that allow people to move around in less carbon intensive and more sustainable ways.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said:

“The sheer volume of traffic on our roads has completely overtaken the amount councils are able to spend on local transport.

“Councils need long-term funding certainty and investment so they can create safe and attractive cycling and public transport networks, and deliver a more resilient roads network.

“With the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference later this year, next week’s Budget is an opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change and investment in reducing harmful emissions from transport, which is the single biggest contributor of carbon in the country.”

Methodology

Increase in cars licensed from 28,322,600 in 3rd quarter of 2009 to 31,976,200 in 3rd quarter of 2019. This is an increase of 3,653,600 cars

Using 4.8 metres as the length of an off-street car parking space (according to the BPA), this equates to 10,897 miles.

Length of Great Britain’s coastline is 11,072 miles (according to the Ordnance Survey)

Road traffic (vehicle miles) by vehicle type

LGA budget submission