To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what protections there are to protect areas of outstanding natural beauty against new road building.
The National Networks National Policy Statement (NPS) sets out Government’s policies to deliver development of nationally significant infrastructure projects on the national road and rail networks in England. It is the basis for examination of schemes by an independent inspector and decisions by the Secretary of State.
As set out in the NPS, there is a strong presumption against any significant road widening or the building of new roads in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), unless it can be shown there are compelling reasons for the new or enhanced capacity and with any benefits outweighing the costs significantly. AONB designated areas have a specific statutory purpose that helps ensure their continued protection and which the Secretary of State has a statutory duty to have regard to in decisions.
Further protections for AONB are set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and Defra’s English national parks and the broads: UK government vision and circular 2010 or successor documents.