To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on their plans to increase cycling and walking of the remit provided to Highways England Historic Railways Estate, particularly its practice of objecting to new cycle paths on grounds of cost; and what steps they plan to take to ensure that policies within different parts of the Department for Transport are coordinated.
The Department for Transport supports the development of routes where there is high propensity for increasing functional cycling and walking journeys in a cost-effective way in line with the Government’s Cycling and Walking Strategy, and we are working with 46 local authorities to develop Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans.
In doing this, the department needs to take account of additional liabilities resulting from any granting of public access to, or transfer of, parts of the Historical Rail Estate that could create short or long-term improvement or maintenance costs to Highways England. The department believes that in such circumstances a transfer of the assets to the relevant local authority is the appropriate way forward so that the local authority can ensure that the relevant property conforms to local policies and that safety, security and long-term maintenance issues are addressed.
Departmental officials are willing to support discussions relating to any such transfers.