Our role in the development of road investment strategies


Information on our role in the development of the third road investment strategy (RIS3), 2025-30, and links to key documents relating to the advice we provided during the development of RIS2 (2020-25).

We play an important role in the development of a new road investment strategy (RIS). Our responsibilities cover two main areas:

  • We support the setting of the RIS, by providing advice on what the Secretary of State can expect to achieve with the funds identified. This advice is intended to ascertain whether the developing proposition is both challenging and deliverable, particularly in terms of efficiency; and
  • We ensure that National Highways meets the obligations in its licence that relate to the setting of the RIS. 

Details of the process of setting a RIS are set out in the licence. Our duties are further described in a Memorandum of Understanding between the highways monitor and the Department for Transport. 

Third road investment strategy (RIS3) 

RIS3 concerns the government’s plans for developing and improving the strategic road network during the third road period (expected to cover April 2025 to March 2030).

Our Approach to the RIS3 development process

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We undertook a consultation on our proposed approach to fulfilling our role in the development of RIS3.

The consultation report and associated documents were published on 4 May 2022. 

Preparing for RIS3

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As part of our preparations for RIS3, we commissioned two packages of work to improve our understanding of National Highways’ developing approach to RIS3 and the evidence it will use to support its plans.  

Under the renewals package, we commissioned a review of National Highways’ approach to renewals investment planning for RIS3. We also asked consultants to look specifically at how our monitoring could promote a ‘whole life cost’ approach to maintaining the SRN.

The enhancements package was also split into two tasks. The first considered National Highways approach to estimating the costs of RIS3 enhancement projects. The second considered how risks of delays to projects could be more effectively assessed.

Second road investment strategy (RIS2)

RIS2 concerns the government’s plans for the second road period (April 2020 to March 2025). Our work culminated in the advice we provided to the Secretary of State about the company's Draft Strategic Business Plan (termed the ‘Efficiency Review’).

RIS2 Efficiency Review - Our advice on the Draft Strategic Business Plan

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We reviewed National Highways' (formerly Highways England's) Draft Strategic Business Plan (Draft SBP) in the first half of 2019, and submitted our advice to the Secretary of State on 28 June 2019, in line with the statutory timescales set out in the Draft RIS. Our analysis and advice were based on the information provided in the Draft SBP, which mostly dated to August 2018.

There were changes to the RIS2 package after the Draft SBP came to us. These changes were not covered in our advice but are reflected in the final set of RIS2 documents.

DfT and National Highways responded to our recommendations in the RIS2 package and we provided additional, informal advice on how they were applied.

RIS2 supporting evidence

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We commissioned a range of analysis to support our review. The reports used information provided in the Draft SBP, many aspects of which have now changed in the final RIS. 

RIS2 capability reviews

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In preparation for the efficiency review, we commissioned, jointly with National Highways, a set of capability reviews in areas that we expected to be important for delivering efficiency in the second road period.

They provided a view of the level of efficiency the company could achieve from these activities but need to be considered alongside National Highways' wider efficiency plans and other evidence, including benchmarking.

Our approach to the second road investment strategy (RIS2)

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In 2016, we set out how we would approach our role and highlighted a range of issues that we believed should be considered in the development of RIS2.